Character Creation Cast

Series 20.1 - Heart with Grant Howitt and Chris Taylor [Designers] (Creation)

Episode Summary

Welcome to the first part of series 20, everyone! Today we have Grant Howitt and Chris Taylor on to discuss their latest game, Heart, which will be kickstarting soon! This game combines the setting and mechanics of Spire with some good old fashioned dungeon crawling, mixed with some truly horrifying implications, so hold onto your hats and get ready for a really interesting series!

Episode Notes

Welcome to the first part of series 20, everyone! Today we have Grant Howitt and Chris Taylor on to discuss their latest game, Heart, which will be kickstarting soon! This game combines the setting and mechanics of Spire with some good old fashioned dungeon crawling, mixed with some truly horrifying implications, so hold onto your hats and get ready for a really interesting series!

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Grant Howitt @gshowitt

Chris Taylor @TheMaddigan

Rowan, Rook and Decard

Hearty Dice Friends @HDFpodcast



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Episode Transcription

Automated Transcripts Below - Not 100% Accurate

Ryan Boelter  0:01  

Welcome to the first episode of series 20 everyone. This series we finally get to sit down with both grant Howard and Chris Taylor, two thirds of Roland rook and record to discuss their latest game heart. But before we get to that, let's get on with our announcements. First up, we are currently in the middle of a review, drive and contest. We have one Academy con badge or one t shirt from our store that we will give out to one of the individuals that have left us a five star review on Apple podcasts. We're currently sitting at 42 five star reviews. And if we can get to 15 by the next Character evolution cast episode, we will commission a new t shirt design of the ghost shakes to go characters we created from our inspectors episode, and offer that design as reward instead if you don't want or can't use the academy con badge. If we do hit 75 reviews, then we'll add something extra special to the winner, which will reveal once we hit the 50 Review mark. Remember, these reviews help people find the show easier and allow us to grow. We currently only have one review left in the wings ready to read. But we will get to that once a million I can sit down to record the next cold open together. Thank you again to everyone who's already left us reviews. They truly do warm our hearts whenever we get to read them. I don't have any further things to announce as of right now. So let's go ahead and get on with the show. Enjoy.


Ryan Boelter  2:25  

Welcome to Character Creation Cast a show where we discuss and create characters The best part of role playing games with guests using their favorite systems. I one of your hosts Ryan, and this episode my co host Amelia and I are thrilled to welcome Greg and Chris Taylor, designers of heart a body horror dungeon crawl from Rowan broken, tattered, which will be kickstarting this month.


Amelia Antrim  2:50  

Welcome kind of back also just in general to Character Creation Cast. We are really excited that you're here.


Grant Howitt  2:57  



Chris Taylor  2:58  

hello. It's pretty good. Actually, I'm actually on this time. It's quite.


Amelia Antrim  3:02  

I'm so excited.


Chris Taylor  3:04  

Okay, historically, Ill at the inopportune moments.


Grant Howitt  3:08  

You got you got the the what I believe is the correct ground experience, which is what I'm being perpetually undermined by Chris.


Chris Taylor  3:15  



Amelia Antrim  3:15  

Well, and also in the morning.


Grant Howitt  3:18  



Chris Taylor  3:18  

for sure.


Grant Howitt  3:19  

Yeah, that was it placed some challenges on my last recording. But yeah, we are we are it's it's what is it for 25. It's for 20.


Grant Howitt  3:31  

times, but we're Stone Cold sober.  


Ryan Boelter  3:34  

There you go.


Grant Howitt  3:35  



Ryan Boelter  3:35  

all right. Well, let's, let's start by introducing both you to our audience. Chris, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and any other projects that you're currently involved in?


Chris Taylor  3:45  

I'm Chris, I'm now a full time game designer and all my projects, heart or spire related to generally my work with grant on pretty much all the games we do.


Amelia Antrim  3:59  

And what about you grant? What do you have going on?


Grant Howitt  4:01  

I'm currently so again spire and heart those are those are the two big things that we're working on. But I I put out one one page role playing game a month. Chris is more generally more of an advisory capacity. And I'll call up ago, Chris, it doesn't work. Crystal, this number should be five rather than four. And then it works. Yes. So. So a present I just finished writing a game called the witch house. Which is kind of a prequel to the witches dead, in which you play fluffy little animals who are super like familiars to a witch in which you are half human, half animal and you're losing your humanity and you have to try and kill the wish to escape. It is brutally sad. It's really hard. It's like, wow, yeah, it's not a sexy battle was it's a give you that news. But it goes comedy, horror, comedy horror. That's how we have to sell we have to run our own one page games


Ryan Boelter  4:58  

I mean, you need a balance.


Chris Taylor  5:00  

Yeah. I mean,


Ryan Boelter  5:03  

it all averages out.


Grant Howitt  5:05  



Chris Taylor  5:05  

we just kind of do what we want.


Grant Howitt  5:08  

Pretty much all day.


Ryan Boelter  5:13  

That's awesome.


Amelia Antrim  5:14  

No one can stop you.


Ryan Boelter  5:17  

All right, well, let's go ahead and get into this, we will start by discussing what this game is all about what's in a game. So let's start with the obvious. So we covered spire last fall, heart takes place in that same world fire below spire and uses the resistance system, the mechanics for a spire. So what makes heart a distinct game from spire?


Chris Taylor  5:43  

So we have a lot of thinking in the early days of doing heart as to whether it would just be like maybe a, an addition to spire or what it could be. And then we looked at it, but no, we need to completely overhaul the resistant system to try to get what we want out of it.


Grant Howitt  6:01  

We were We were clear that we were going to use resistance system. I think like, yeah, there's kind of a mark of pride in that saying, like, can we use this to tell different stories?


Chris Taylor  6:10  

Now, how far could we flex this system?


Grant Howitt  6:12  

Yeah, we want it to mess around with it.


Chris Taylor  6:14  

And so that came up, we came up with the idea for the heart, which is like the radical opposite of spire. Spies Like a revolutionary game. That's societal change. And this is more introspective, and going down rather than up in a game terms. And it's, it's very different despite but keeps a couple of the same sort of notes from that game.


Grant Howitt  6:38  



Ryan Boelter  6:39  



Amelia Antrim  6:40  

So what sort of things we always ask this question, do you need to play this game?


Chris Taylor  6:44  

Books dice people into pen?


Grant Howitt  6:47  

Yes, you need, you need your standard set policy drills. So before through to, or you don't need to be 20 you can leave that one. I hope. Thank you very much. See 10? Yeah, cuz you'll need a few returns. It runs we have we use slightly more dice than we did inspire. So we've got the before and the Beatles are correct to play the pencil and paper. And I think crucially, a willingness to have horrible things happen to your character to enjoy that.


Chris Taylor  7:14  

Yeah. You really need to get old with that otherwise can be.


Amelia Antrim  7:18  

Yeah, yeah.


Grant Howitt  7:20  

Especially like, like if the gym decides to go out at hard. Does a does. It can get catastrophic very quickly. And that's fun. You know, that can be good. When you have to be ready for that.


Amelia Antrim  7:32  

Yeah, I think you killed half of our table when we played at gym.


Grant Howitt  7:35  

Yeah, fully half. Yeah, yourselves. Okay.


Amelia Antrim  7:40  

I stayed alive.


Grant Howitt  7:41  

Yeah. Yeah.


Grant Howitt  7:46  

With all of your lindzon


Chris Taylor  7:50  

just making money.


Grant Howitt  7:51  



Amelia Antrim  7:52  



Amelia Antrim  7:55  

Yeah, I mean, in a game where everyone was losing fingers and teeth. I did. All right.


Chris Taylor  8:00  

Ryan, peel bonus.


Grant Howitt  8:01  



Ryan Boelter  8:05  

That's amazing. So what kind of stories and themes is this game meant to explore?


Grant Howitt  8:11  

So primarily, it's exploring the effects of the unknown on frail human bodies. We were heavily inspired by annihilation. And we're inspired by House of leaves. And you're sort of your What's his name? Genji toe? I think Yeah, the guy because there's honorable mangoes, then ask? Yeah, really gross. But that that's sort of like taking something which is familiar and stretching it. Unlike unlike reap, one of the most impressive things about annihilation for me certainly was the way that it made new things actually rebuilding and hacking parts. So like there's a deer with flowers growing out of their antlers. And that's a pretty basic thing. But taking that unlike remix recombining ideas, so it becomes unsettling, and wonderful and beautiful. was the point that goes the question again, I started talking about this.


Amelia Antrim  9:09  

What stories and themes?


Grant Howitt  9:11  

Oh, yeah. So themes are change. I think the fact that so while inspire, you are actively pushing for change in heart there is you're trying not to, you're trying to you're trying to stabilize the world around you, you're trying not to have your body change, you're trying not to lose too much of yourself and your essential humanity. As you descend into a place which is designed anathema to humanity, that you're not you're not supposed to go there, and how and resisting that change. And there's some there's some colonial stuff there as well and talking about like, What effect does it have on the colonizers and the colonized, and what sort of this fantasy ideal of a place which cannot be colonized? And, like trying to colonize the heart is fundamentally, Lord, and the


Chris Taylor  10:01  

thing of the land is actively fighting back against you. Like, it's not just you going down into the depths and something fighting you back? It's it's invading you, like your mind your body? It's, it's giving you power, because it's, it's kind of this weird, benevolent God in a way like it's trying to help. It's trying to create a reality you might comprehend. But it doesn't understand it doesn't we get it?


Grant Howitt  10:27  

We have three canonical explanations, what the heart is, and they are all correct.


Chris Taylor  10:31  

Yes, that sounds like we tried to do throughout all the books as we go like, there is no single truth. Like you cannot be wrong in any part of the setting. So we were trying to like more random solutions to problems that people can pick as the one they like. And one of them is that the heart is sentience, and just wants to really help.


Grant Howitt  10:50  

It was like a nice place where everyone can live.


Chris Taylor  10:52  

But unfortunately, it mainly understands the concept of teeth and intestines.


Grant Howitt  10:57  

It's got me it's got teeth, it's got some and it's going to make a beautiful world out of those one room at a time. It just wants the best for you, it just has to change you so you can work properly. Yeah, there's lots of different ways which you can run the heart, which you can run the the intelligence of the place itself, and you'll tell slightly different stories. But primarily, it's about exploration and understanding the self and understanding the world around you.


Chris Taylor  11:24  

And like kind of accepting that transients and maybe trying to like, pick something that's yours and really look after it. Whether that be like your sanity or even a location in the game. You can kind of go Lino actually, the people here are goods despite being a bit iffy. They are ultimately good people, I want to keep this I need to end to protect this from change, and let them change at their own pace, rather than be forced to change.


Ryan Boelter  11:52  

Very cool.


Amelia Antrim  11:53  

This is a new game, obviously. But I want to talk a little bit about kind of where this idea came from. And, um, you know, like any big revelations that you've maybe had well play testing it. How did this start?


Grant Howitt  12:08  

It was Chris's idea. It was so every every every four months, we have a we have a meeting the the the three mysterious figureheads behind Ron Ruffin decade, which is me, Chris and Mary Hamilton. So not that mysterious, I guess. We get together, and we go out.


Amelia Antrim  12:25  

I've met all of you, you're real people.


Grant Howitt  12:27  

Yeah, yeah, we're genuinely real. We get together and we plot out what we're going to do over the next four months what our what our goals are, like how we're going to get this business. And so like we were we were floundering around trying to write, trying to write effectively sequel despite which wasn't quite taking. And Chris was like, What if we did OSR? And so we could do a sort of dungeon crawl idea in the, in the, in the resistance system, but how would we sell it? And then Chris had the best idea ever, which was,


Chris Taylor  13:00  

you're referencing now? many good ideas.


Chris Taylor  13:04  

Every idea I have is pure gold. I need you to narrow this down.


Grant Howitt  13:08  

Yeah, my apologies. And so it was it was your idea to just set it under spire?


Chris Taylor  13:13  

Yeah. So setting under spire lets us have essentially free rein that we can mess with. Because spire is such a bizarre is perhaps the wrong word, but a mutable setting, and a crazy setting. Like there's all sorts of different interacting factions, all sorts of stuff, we can drag that down and push it into into a dungeon crawler. And we can look at a story game version of OSR. Because I personally really like OSR games, however, I'm not going to play any of them. They've, they're difficult, right? Like, I want a nice, nice relaxing game I don't want to look at and there are there are games that do that really well. Sure. But we wanted to take the kind of story first abilities from spire the ability that goes, You know what, actually, I already know this place. I've done a cool thing here before. I'm creating this part of story and put that into a dungeon crawler, rather than like, you've got 30 feet of movement. You like cool, okay, I've been down this massive spiral staircase before I know what's at the bottom. And it let us really mess with the kind of basic RSR formula of you turn left, there are now two doors, which do you go through one is trapped that sort of stuff? Yeah.


Grant Howitt  14:31  

I think that setting it in the heart and like exploring what the heart is, like the quote, early on, we can't we came up with the idea that the heart is intelligent, and will try and build a perfect world for you. It just gets it wrong. Or it'll try and give you what you want as you go into it, which is the role of a GM. And so we get to it, like we get to stay within the established fiction of the world. But you can have these really weird coincidences and stuff which are obvious story beats, but that's just the heart doing it. So it gave us quite a lot of freedom against GMOs quite a lot of freedom as well to just to be quite blunt and brisk with stories are


Chris Taylor  15:06  

like, for instance, there's there's one place in in heart that we've detail called high rise. And high rise is a place that has what we've called blanks, which are something the heart has made to replicate Drell because doesn't understand them yet. It just has the memories of people who have been into the heart to sort of work off of so it's created how they look. And it's gone. Okay, you've go through daily life. So it's, it's using, like machine learning, to just let the drought go through their daily lives, so it can experience it, and then trying to improve it in certain ways. Like, maybe they maybe they flourish with everything on fire. Oh, no, they try that one again, reset this. And then let it run again. And you can run the entire game as though essentially the the heart itself is a crazed AI. Yeah, trying to make a perfect utopia, but really going about it from like, right, what is oxygen? Do they need? No, yes, no. Yes. From that base level, or you can have it as this weird, malevolent thing that's trying to persecute you for any given number of reasons. And it let us have a bigger playground to mess about with honestly.


Amelia Antrim  16:16  

How much had you defined like, what the heart was before you started doing this game? A little bit. Inspire, but not a lot, right?


Grant Howitt  16:28  

Yes, Presley had the heart not mapped. Christmas really super clear on that? Yeah.


Chris Taylor  16:35  

no point did I ever want the heart map to aspire? Because it was this kind of threat, like this alien concept. And you could just drop it into any game as the big bad if you really wanted to, instead of like, in some games you like where it was magic magic happened? Right? where it was hard to have it? Sure. And it was about that freedom of it was really good.


Amelia Antrim  16:58  

Was it tough to like change that for this to kind of take some of that away?


Chris Taylor  17:02  



Grant Howitt  17:04  

I'm going to say for the first four months of production, Chris and I had different ideas of what the heart was, like radically different.


Chris Taylor  17:11  

And we actually communicated properly. Was and we were just, we were writing two entirely different paradigms of what the heart was.


Amelia Antrim  17:22  



Grant Howitt  17:23  

I felt it was a giant endless city. And crystal, it was a big cave, but some buildings them.


Chris Taylor  17:28  



Grant Howitt  17:29  

And we smash those together. Yeah. Because Chris has that has been said more copes


Chris Taylor  17:35  

yet. Maybe it's like, Okay. Because because it's a reality warping. You know what? Sure. The answer is yes. If the if you think of something the answers Yep. Yep. Sure.


Grant Howitt  17:45  

Part of the frustrations we've had with despite is we are not hard sci fi writers. We are not hard to see, right? Yes, we are. We do not like having to show our working or doing the research, that sort of thing. Just just sort of like, mush ideas together and go, go go, don't look at them too hard. They'll fall over. People will say, oh, but how tall is spire? I don't I don't know.


Amelia Antrim  18:04  

Why does it matter? To be


Grant Howitt  18:08  

as tall as you need to be plus 10%? Whatever, that's fine. But people like like, Oh, actually, I've done the math, but no, shut up. You can't do that. It's bad. And so heart, they can't do the maths. I mean, well.


Grant Howitt  18:21  

Yeah. Yeah. This one on your calculator


Chris Taylor  18:24  

completely stymied that entirely.


Grant Howitt  18:27  

But we've got extra skies under there. We've got seeds, we've got trees that grow with no sunlight. We've just because because we've got we've got this sort of loose primordial soup of reality, just making whatever it wants, we can put whatever we want on there. And so can you so can your players. And that's that's a, it's quite free. But I think we've had to certainly, we've had to explore a little bit about what there is and what there isn't. Because there's because like that there's certainly like will be writing something. And what we say is, despite this isn't this isn't hard, is it? This is quite like the very first, if Chris was kind of a high rise, I did this full breakdown of high rise as one of the first things we wrote for the book is about 334 pages long, and it did detailed the cold and it did to others. So there's a suicide cold there. And the blanks, as Chris mentioned earlier, and the buildings and sent over to Chris, he was like, This is great. It's a spire setting. This, this is just spire what you've written here thus far too many people there's far too. There's far too much. This needs to be weird. And so we cut it back, and we left more up to the GM. And it's more it's I think it's one of the benefits we've had is understanding that no, two hearts are the same.


Ryan Boelter  19:36  



Grant Howitt  19:38  

Oh, yeah.


Chris Taylor  19:41  

We learned from spire like everybody described every district inspire completely differently. And he was so happy with that, that we wanted to promote it more and give you more tools to mess about with like, what we do is essentially we write, we write the first third of everything in great detail. And then just kind of let the tracks of that railroad buckle outwards. At the Iranian you know, it's your minecart, right now knock yourself out. So we give you the prompts. And we give you enough structure to let you just run with whatever weird stuff comes into your head.


Grant Howitt  20:13  

We give you a blank map. And the map has slots on and it's like put the things you'd like and the good players will like in here. And that's what heart looks like for you. And maybe if you come back down in six months, it will look different. But there's no sort of this is canonical, what's here and what's there. It's all smudged up together. Also because it's quite hard to map three dimensional space we found out


Chris Taylor  20:32  

Yeah, really? Yeah, we don't like


Amelia Antrim  20:35  

to like put that in the books. And


Grant Howitt  20:37  

he's a lot of pop up.


Chris Taylor  20:38  

Yeah, holograms,


Amelia Antrim  20:40  

I would pop up book of spire,


Grant Howitt  20:43  

he would everyone else would buy pop up because


Chris Taylor  20:47  

I love tower sheets. Exactly.


Chris Taylor  20:52  

So although I'll put in a not to scale at the bottom,


Ryan Boelter  20:56  

augmented reality is making a huge hit on like, where you can put a cell phone on a picture. And through the cell phone, the picture transforms into something, you know, completely different and three dimensional and everything.


Chris Taylor  21:10  

That'd be great. Just put like a postage stamp sized QR code down your table and you look at it through your phone, and then track the phone up like miles and miles of city until they start breaking


Ryan Boelter  21:21  

the picture.


Grant Howitt  21:23  

Just Just like just say you're very close and it just fills the entire screen.


Ryan Boelter  21:26  

There you go. It's just a wall.


Grant Howitt  21:29  

Yeah, very big wall. There you go. even easier, put yourself inside the single room.


Amelia Antrim  21:37  

Oh no, you've teleported inside the wall.


Grant Howitt  21:40  

Oh, nine


Grant Howitt  21:43  

599, please.


Ryan Boelter  21:45  

Awesome. So before we get into character creation on there are probably some basic terms and concepts that we need to know before we get in there. And we've got listed stress followed domains and call. Can you tell us a bit about any of those?


Grant Howitt  22:03  

Let's take let's take these in turn. Okay, I'll go first. Sure. So stress is theoretical damage. Stress is stresses, stresses, damage, misfortune, bad luck. Mind messing, none of which has a mechanical effects on your character. Think of it like stamina rather than wings to copy from a different game of ours which you haven't read. But But Stress Stress has no mechanical impact on your character. However the more of it you accrue, the more likely you are to get Fallout which is


Chris Taylor  22:38  

so Fallout is the is turning the potential of stress into a concrete problem that you now have to face. Okay, so it'll if you taken enough blood stress and you get blood fall out it could break your leg if you get in a fortune fall out so your luck is run out. You can get lost echo which is your kind of effect on the heart and the hearts effect on you like the internal struggle it can start mutating you can start changing the way that you sick but looks when there's a change the way you see. I mean literally how you see changes. Yeah. And you can you can have Fallout that means I call a load of weird people have started following you around because your great deeds, you've accidentally started a cult.


Amelia Antrim  23:25  

Like to me all the time.


Chris Taylor  23:26  

Yeah, it's too common.


Grant Howitt  23:28  

One of my favorite things about four is the way that it it's kind of like reverse advances. Yeah. In the in the your inverted commas real world rewarding people for playing well by going and getting into trouble. And we want it all the fights be like oh, cool, oh my I'm carrying off rather than minus five speed and


Chris Taylor  23:48  

everything's on the same level with Fallout as it were. So a broken leg and a cult have similar game weights, they affect different things. But it's not like I got a cult that whatever, we can brush that off. Now this broken leg I've got a problem with both of them are designed to be as difficult to deal with as the other. So there's, so there's social, societal, a cult, insanity, physical, all of these different fallouts that are treated the same way as losing hit points, and your Character coming near to death. And some of them give you almost two bonuses. Most of them don't.


Amelia Antrim  24:23  

I like the idea, though, that they are related to the bad thing that happened because I feel like that's that's the thing that always annoys me and games is just like you are minus for whatever. And it's like, it doesn't matter why I failed or how I failed, that it's just generic bad thing happens. And that's really frustrating to me narratively. So I really like that it's related to what happens and how it happens. And it just like feels more like consistent or in line with what's happening.


Chris Taylor  24:53  

Sure. And that's, that's one of the nice things, one of the things I find most like about it is that it's not on a random table. It's not like a hit location chart, you choose whatever narratively makes sense at the time. Like if you've just essentially suffered blood Fallout in quotation marks. But also it was from an icky monster who'd like spotlight of gunk at you. Well, maybe we could turn that into an echo Fallout. Like, it's suggested that you do blood because of x reasons or whatever. But you can change it. I'm just gonna stop here.


Grant Howitt  25:22  

It's entirely between the player in the gym.


Chris Taylor  25:23  

Yeah. And the hope that everything from like, character creation through to hit points is built up essentially a dialogue. Everybody has a say, including the player in how their player get in how the character gets hurt.


Grant Howitt  25:34  

Yeah. Because this is what people want to happen to them. Amelia, you seem to be a strong proponent of this. You actively love it when things go wrong with your character in the in a good way.


Amelia Antrim  25:46  

Yeah. Oh, yeah. It's fun. It's fun to see what happens.


Grant Howitt  25:49  

We might as well reward people for doing that as well encourage them by giving them effectively cool things happen when they go wrong.


Amelia Antrim  25:56  

Well, I think it encourages people even who aren't actively interested in people who don't necessarily want to fail, because I've played with those kinds of people before, but I think it encourages them to to try and see what happens if it is something like cool or interesting, or you know, like related to what's happening, it feels a lot more gratifying than just like, bad.


Grant Howitt  26:18  

It's a bit like in dungeon. The Dragons, there's chapter seven, I think is the spell the spell chapter. And you only get access to that chapter if you play one of the spell casting classes. And our Fallout chapter is as cool and you only get access to it if you make stupid mistakes. So you have to go and play faster. And you'll you'll find the fun bits of


Chris Taylor  26:37  

the book. And the thing. We found people find it kind of addicting in a weird way. Like, they'll be like, No, no, no, I cannot take that as dangerous. And then one of their friends starts to just use the example again, accidentally starts a cult. And like, how do I get me some of these fallouts?


Grant Howitt  26:51  

I want? I want I want


Chris Taylor  26:52  

I want I want some of these are the business


Amelia Antrim  26:56  

calls? I want to call? Yeah,


Chris Taylor  26:58  

well, you start making stupid decisions play risky. Oh, yeah. I mean, do what I want. Yes, let's


Grant Howitt  27:04  

go stick your legs in that radioactive containment cylinder made of teeth. And then maybe you'll get a call.


Amelia Antrim  27:12  

Like, it's always been like, if you put that thing in front of me. I'm gonna go touch it.


Amelia Antrim  27:18  

Why else did you put it in the game? Didn't want me to touch it?


Chris Taylor  27:22  

Yeah, exactly that. Yeah,


Amelia Antrim  27:25  

might as well have stayed home.


Grant Howitt  27:27  

Next up, we've got domains. So domains are kind of a woolly concept, I suppose. But so that we have skills and domains of the two hubs of expertise is we have another game, as a skills are things like kill, hunt, evade meant basic verbs which you do to try and achieve something. And domains are more areas of expertise or physical locations in the heart. So a cult is a domain. And Warren is a domain inspire the world, different parts of the city or different organizations. Here they blur the lines a little bit more between what you between what you know and where you are. But they cut they bring with them this sort of Penumbra of I haven't the occult domain, therefore, therefore, when I'm in a cold area, I get to I get to have some stage time I get to roll dice, I got to be more professional. And so it's more they're more of a story concern saying when do you want your character to be to be good? Rather than precisely what do you know what don't you?


Chris Taylor  28:28  

Yeah, and I mean, as with a lot of rules in our games, they're arguable, like, Grant grant mentioned that skill, that kind of Penumbra they're designed to be fairly woolly. Like what I one thing I really like in games is going is catch going well, I don't have electrical repair. But I do have some background as a bomb disposal expert. Yeah. Can I have wires? Like, let's go? Why is it Can I do that? Like, yeah, sure. Sounds great. Like, because if it goes wrong, then we know why. And it's a better story. Yeah. So we create these things with like, the domains are areas within the heart shore. But they also reply to things from those areas are themed or tonally from that that style. So a cult is one of the fairly wide ones, admittedly, because everything's a bit cold in a way. But you can you can apply things to different areas and get something out of it. And essentially argue with your gym for coolness, which is always fun. Yeah. And the last one is callings, which is a fairly huge thing on a thing. So in spire, we had something called clearances, which was a background, essentially a very short background that gave you a couple little bonuses to certain things you were trained in, perhaps unwillingly, perhaps you really went into with gusto, whatever the calling is, in heart is why you're down in the heart. What's your reason for being in this stupid, definitely place? We've got things like adventure, you know what, you are just one of those adventuring nutjob once who's got a sense of on way and wants to throw themselves into the more of whatever's going. But then it's things like enlightenment, penitence, you've, you've committed a crime, and you've had to flee down here, and you're trying to make up for that wrong. And you could be forced down here, like people, somebody's got blackmail on you and wants you to go down here and get something for them. And they all contain something called beats, which a little story seeds that you complete to to advance your character. And they're, they're a bigger part of character creation than they were inspire.


Ryan Boelter  30:34  

Very cool.


Amelia Antrim  30:36  

Yeah, I thought they were super neat.


Grant Howitt  30:37  

It's pretty, it's pretty fun, like the way that inspire you advance your character by changing the city. And that really worked for the for the game the spy was doing, it was very broad, it was quite a wide game. And because this is much more focused, that is basically a bottle episode that lasts for the whole campaign, in that you're trapped in the heart as it were, your track together. And so saying, All right, when you do the scene, when you achieve this thing you get so you get to advance, and some of those are take take major blood fall out. So you'll find people pushing themselves into really stupid situations so they can get hurt so they can level up. Alright, cool. And the game happened, you know?


Chris Taylor  31:13  

Or even like one of my personal favorites is you you you meet and deal with an NPC who hates you. Like we're not talking a combat thing. This is a social thing. This person just despises you. And with good reason. Yeah. And it's really nice to see a player go, Oh, well, that NPC cannot be the person that hates me. Yes, it can. Yes, it definitely can. And it's so much fun having people just throw like scenes at you as a GM. Like, Oh, we've got a quite a bit here. Can this be the bit where I fall down a terrible cold? Well show? Is your birthday? Yeah.


Amelia Antrim  31:52  

Are there any other terms or anything that you think people might need to know before we jump into actually building our characters?


Grant Howitt  31:58  

mastery is a term which will cover yo Yes, mastery beings you roll an extra day 10 when you do the thing? Well put yesterday today, but we need but you can only need as a cap on mastering there isn't a cap on the word d 10.


Chris Taylor  32:16  

That's what was I from that? No,


Grant Howitt  32:18  

no. Okay, fine. We can we can go through.


Chris Taylor  32:20  

Thankfully, it's a fairly simple character creation system. The problem is choice rather than anything else.


Amelia Antrim  32:27  

Yeah, I'm real bad at choices.


Chris Taylor  32:30  

The option paralysis really sinks in.


Amelia Antrim  32:32  



Ryan Boelter  32:34  

Right. Well, are we ready to make some people we can make? Let's make some people.


Marie-Claire Segues  32:39  

Let's make some people.


Ryan Boelter  32:41  

All right. So what's the first thing that we need to do to create a character in this game? Good question.


Chris Taylor  32:49  

I actually wrote this out today, just to make sure that I had exactly what you need to do.


Chris Taylor  32:55  

With put it we put it in, it's in the play test, and it will be a lot lot clearer in the final version. But the first thing you need to do is essentially kind of pick a vague concept for what you want to do. Like do you want to be somebody who throws about weird wants a frozen isn't fireball but who interacts with weird magic's Do you want to be slightly more mundane in a difficult world, that sort of stuff. Once you kind of got that idea. The next thing to do is to pick a race. And races have absolutely no mechanical benefits at all in this game. There's a couple of people have emphases who might look at you a bit differently if they came from spy, which was a very segregated game.


Chris Taylor  33:42  

But down here, everybody's in hell.


Chris Taylor  33:47  

Who's going to be mean to you because you're a normal in this world when the literal chairs are trying to eat you. So you've got humans who are kind of gnomes, like they're enterprising. They're archaeologists, their inventors tech focused. Yeah, yeah. You've got drown who we saw a lot of inspire and are honestly the most common down here because it's their city.


Grant Howitt  34:11  

That people yeah, like the default?


Chris Taylor  34:14  

Yes, they are. They're definitely the default. You've got the welfare who previously were unplayable inspire, because they were all full of presses. And we don't want people playing off the presses. But down here, most of them are as bad off as everybody else.


Grant Howitt  34:30  

The they're not part of the society, which they've been exiled from.


Chris Taylor  34:33  

Yeah, like a lot of them are unmasked, which if you've seen spires just like the biggest social transgression ever, and you can play as moles. Who are lovely wolf boys. Big Dog boys. Yep. And it's kind of nice to know what sort of culture you're coming from I the play test document doesn't have anything on this because it's not mechanical. So we skipped it on it's like, yeah, we need to cut to the quick of what we were testing. But the full book will have a bit more of this. So for instance, if you're picking a novel they have they're very good at things like demon ology. They've got they've got their claws in many weird types of magic's. But if in doubt, the easiest thing to do is just assume drown.


Grant Howitt  35:20  

slap, slap a French name on it, change a couple of letters, Bob's your uncle. Yeah. So the next thing you do, I think, is you pick your class and then you're calling Chris.


Chris Taylor  35:29  

Either way around. You want to do


Grant Howitt  35:30  

it? Yeah, either way around. So what I'd recommend you do is take a look through the through the columns, in fact, yeah, take a look through the colons first, to the first and that first in the document. So we've got this adventure. There's enlightenment, there's forced, there's penitent, and there's heart soul. All those aside from heart song makes sense, just from the word heart song is when you sleep you dream of the heart so you get to be that weird sort of. I've heard I've heard whisperings and the undersea there are eyes that look upon us from below. You get to do also all that if you want to be rewarded for being weird and being part of the city. Take a look through those see what beats there are see what you're excited about doing? And then take a look at the classes should we should we run through the classes and turn Chris because I moment there's the six. They'll be more of the final game. But well, again, we'll go through and says the first up is the heretic. heretic is a very religious absurdly religious person. He's been exiled from the city above all like the great great grandparents were and they're still so bitter about it. But they worship the moon beneath which is your play blood borne.


Amelia Antrim  36:44  



Chris Taylor  36:45  

that would have been really easy.


Grant Howitt  36:47  

Well, don't wait.


Grant Howitt  36:50  

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. No, no, it's completely original idea that we came up with ourselves with my


Amelia Antrim  36:55  

super cool because that's what I play.


Grant Howitt  36:58  

We didn't just Nick it from blood borne. One of the cool things I really like about blood borne the PS baseball game is that it's about humans coming up against Khufu style massive intelligences and then everything going wrong for them. And like that bodies and minds warping and changing. And so we just put that into a class. The Heritage  


Chris Taylor  37:20  

Yeah, just let players embrace it rather than be a problem.


Grant Howitt  37:22  

Yeah. So like the most iconic ability is communion, which you just you open a tiny little channel to the Goddess in your mind. And then everyone who can hear you speak in tongues takes damage and that sort of thing, including your party.


Chris Taylor  37:36  

I feel like yes,


Grant Howitt  37:36  

there they come together as a box.


Chris Taylor  37:38  

That's that problem. Yeah.


Grant Howitt  37:42  

The next next up we got the hound Chris tell us about the hands


Chris Taylor  37:44  

so when the heart was kind of first discovered the alpha sent down an enormous military unit to kind of essentially go well more land hurry will take it for the spy that got messed up real quick hounds, the splintered factions that kind of came from that original unit getting destroyed. And they've placed themselves as watchman of the of the heart. So they've their informal police force. Like I was just like, there is no single book of rules or laws here. And and one way you can make my hand is to kill a man who's got a badge, take the badge and then pretend to be a hound. That's legitimate.


Grant Howitt  38:26  

Yes, you are perfectly perfectly calm even though


Amelia Antrim  38:29  

I feel like if you defeat somebody in combat, you assume their position works


Chris Taylor  38:33  

Yeah. Yeah.


Chris Taylor  38:38  

And so they they enforce what they consider the laws. The problem is that none of them agree. Yeah. So they just enforce whatever they feel is just right, which as you can imagine, is a sliding scale.


Grant Howitt  38:51  

Very very heavily inspired by volumes from from Discworld and every film right Winston has been


Chris Taylor  38:59  

Yep. If you imagine these right when you're done in a world war one trench fighter,


Grant Howitt  39:06  

do you play Winston as Americans


Amelia Antrim  39:09  

that person to ask about anything?


Grant Howitt  39:13  

Right away it's like a it's like a chess not crossed with a testicle.


Grant Howitt  39:19  

Talk so this is no nonsense


Chris Taylor  39:22  

imagine a square London gangster that's right Winston.


Grant Howitt  39:28  



Amelia Antrim  39:29  

and then put him in a world war one trench of World War One


Chris Taylor  39:31  

trench and give him a badge.


Grant Howitt  39:34  

Now transport that trench to hell.


Amelia Antrim  39:37  



Chris Taylor  39:38  



Grant Howitt  39:39  

ready basically do whatever


Grant Howitt  39:43  

the next class we've got is the junk mail age all the


Grant Howitt  39:46  

junk mail honestly I think it's both of our favor isn't that


Chris Taylor  39:49  



Grant Howitt  39:51  

know what we were we wanted to have a wizard class we wanted to try and work out what they were doing we had them as hackers for a while but what we've gotten there with drunk majors someone who is basically siphoning power off from something far more powerful than they are so like a warlock except they're breaking in like they are they're like they've got they've got the the hose pipe up and they're they're sucking gas out of the damages brain


Chris Taylor  40:17  

Yeah, it's a warlock with a patron who hates them they are chemically addicted to the power that they can get from that patron


Grant Howitt  40:26  

which is fun.


Grant Howitt  40:28  

so we we got to then we got to invent all this huge larger than life imagery around all the supernatural patrons then to sort of put it somewhere where players couldn't go except if you play junk match and you can sort of plug your mind into it. That's pretty cool. President we've got rules for basically fire and water but we've just added some fancy words


Amelia Antrim  40:51  

away all the secrets here


Grant Howitt  40:53  

Knights Chris


Chris Taylor  40:55  

So yeah, the vermilion Knights are probably the best way of explaining these tanks in the in the classical like trinity of rolling in flight fighter tank healer, but also literal tanks, like the military style. They are the defenders and explorers of a curse train network, the cause the whole heart problem in the beginning. It says it's a spire plotline essentially where they built tried to build a mass transit network and thought well we'll plug it into this otherworldly reality to some power. Because we're terribly bright. And it went horribly wrong as you can imagine, and Lucy night so the, the, the armed forces of those people, so they were reclaimed armor built from old train carriages like they can wield a train door is their only weapon. And they can jack into like this transit network, they can shortcut distances, they can effectively charge their armor so that it's massively conductive. So that when somebody hits them, it feels like a trains hit them. And there are art class and they are genuinely a joy to see people play because what we've done is we've given one class the ability to run headlong into danger and live


Grant Howitt  42:09  

and yet and explode but they survive.


Chris Taylor  42:12  

And it's it's hilarious watching them like pinball their way through different hell dimensions, seeing what trouble they can get into


Grant Howitt  42:19  

fifth class we've got is the which is the which is an evolution of the blood, which from spire, so we've taken the idea of people who were infected basically with magic, which lets them control blood and control space and time, and then put them in their element. So we want to talk a little bit more about culture, and about how people react to two ways people two people with two people understand things in an environment where understanding can be seen as a threat. So that kind of half a half and ability, half which and they can pull gallons of blood out your nose if they don't like you frequently do and frequently do. And then the final class we've got which worked which was not in the play test was this was still working honestly, in Canada.


Chris Taylor  43:02  

Yeah. So inspire we had the as your rights, who had a God of greed and plenty and wealth. And there's actually a flip side of that coin, which is the God the God income, who is the God of debt.


Chris Taylor  43:16  

And these the incarnate Dean has gotten themselves into so much karmic debt, from buying and selling everything from like, let's say weapons to people's memories. That income has essentially claimed them as their own. And you can do a lot of very strange bartering systems in the game to let go, Well, I could take this damage, or you could take this damage for me and although you will quit.


Amelia Antrim  43:47  

At least the ones that have like a bomb in the head. Yes, yes. Yes. This is what Dylan played.


Amelia Antrim  43:56  

It's very good.


Chris Taylor  43:57  

Yes, they they a lot of them have essentially done men switches when deals go bad, which are essentially detonates them. Yeah.


Chris Taylor  44:07  

It can become a problem.


Grant Howitt  44:08  

It's fun


Ryan Boelter  44:10  

a very happy game.


Grant Howitt  44:11  

Yeah. Yeah. You know, you know, it is, is is deliberately fairly grim. And players can make their own jokes. And there's always the grim to come back to be people are going to make jokes, people are going to want to want to release that tension. And there's, there's the absurdity, about about what's going on. Like, it's so unpleasant. Why on earth are we doing this? And, like, one of the great things about body horror is pretty much always unpleasant. So you can just you can just sort of like you can, you can keep going back to that. Well, after everyone's making jokes, and you just go cool. A row was made out of bone blossoms from from one of your eyes and restore your tone.


Chris Taylor  44:48  

And like a lot of that is that it's so absurd. Like, in a lot of cases, it's just bonkers. What's going on. And


Grant Howitt  44:56  

in the game that we were playing with Amelia. Someone's arm grew legs and runoff.


Amelia Antrim  45:01  

Oh, yeah. Like a giant spider thing. And then one of his legs fell off.


Amelia Antrim  45:06  

Yeah, I just ran away from him.


Chris Taylor  45:09  

But like you use that to break that awful tension of everything is dire. This is a nightmare. And then one of your arms scuttles off. Well, there's literally no way I can laugh at that. That's ridiculous.


Amelia Antrim  45:21  

Not even mad.


Chris Taylor  45:22  

Yeah, that's funny. And then you can come back to the make it as gritty dark as you want. Or you can probably shift the lever towards levity. Yeah.


Amelia Antrim  45:33  

Yeah, I think we had we had a casino thing that was like you were paying in your memories. And it was it was dark, but then also like, it was really fun because also you could pay with teeth.


Grant Howitt  45:48  

You have basically the overworked middle management and janitorial staff.


Amelia Antrim  45:52  

Oh, yeah.


Grant Howitt  45:54  



Amelia Antrim  45:55  

Yeah, it was good.


Amelia Antrim  46:01  

Thank you for joining us for part one of this character creation series. We'll be back in part two picking up right where we left off.


Ryan Boelter  46:07  

Character Creation Cast is a production of the one shot Podcast Network and can be found online at www Character Creation Cast calm until the website to get more information on our hosts this show and even our press kit. Character Creation Cast can also be found on Twitter at Creation Cast or on our Discord server at discord Character Creation i one of your hosts Ryan bolter, and I can be found on twitter at Lord Neptune or online at Lord Neptune calm or other host Emily Antrim can be found on twitter at ginger reckoning. Music for this episode is used with a Creative Commons license, or with permission from the podcast they originated from. Further information can be found within the show notes. Our main theme music is hero remix by Steve combs. And it's you creative commons license. This podcast is owned by us under Creative Commons. This episode was edited by Ryan bolter. Further information for the game systems used and today's guests can be found in the show notes. If you'd like to leave us a rating or review. We have links to various preview platforms out there, including Apple podcasts in our show notes. Also, check the show notes for links to our other projects. Thanks for joining us. And remember, we find that the best part of any role playing game is character creation. So go out there and create some amazing people. We will see you next time.


Amelia Antrim  47:54  

Now we gotta read some show blurbs


Ryan Boelter  47:56  

show blurbs


Amelia Antrim  47:57  

show blurbs


Ryan Boelter  47:58  

show blurbs


Amelia Antrim  47:59  

show blurbs.


Ryan Boelter  48:02  

Character Creation Cast is hosted by the one shot Podcast Network. If you enjoyed our show, visit one shot podcast com where you will find other great shows like modifier


Amelia Antrim  48:13  

modifier is an interview show hosted by Megan Dornbrock. All about why and how people change games. From hobbyist to the professional from house rules to publication. We all have in mind a better way to play what's yours


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