Happy Bishop Games

If the bishop's happy, we're happy

Happy Bishop Games - If the bishop's happy, we're happy

Who is this Teilhard guy?

Teilhard’s Agents is based somewhat on the work of the real Teilhard, so we thought a brief introduction is in order.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 – 1955) was a French philosopher, paleontologist, geologist, and Jesuit priest. Unlike some Christians, he embraced evolution and went so far as to suggest humanity (and the universe itself) will evolve into the Omega Point, a maximum level of complexity and consciousness–also known as Christ. Yes, he suggests we will one day evolve to become Jesus Christ.

Although Teilhard did not coin the term noosphere–that honor belongs to Ukranian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky–Teilhard emphasized how the noosphere is made up of human minds. He repeatedly got in hot water with the Catholic Church over his teachings, which is enough to make him a hero in my book. Philip K. Dick was also a big fan of Teilhard–’nuff said. (He also influences one of my favorite science fiction series, the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons.) Given how the noosphere (and its connection to human minds) is the cornerstone of the game’s setting, Teilhard’s work is vital to this game.

Basing a rpg on a Jesuit priest who believed humanity will evolve into God? You could do worse.

Our next game: Teilhard’s Agents

Finally, we have something to announce: Work on a new rpg has begun.

Teilhard’s Agents is a roleplaying game mixing elements of politics, emotion theory, Jungian psychology, Lacuna Pt. 1, and The Matrix. (Yes, all of that at once.)

Set in the modern world, player-characters upload their minds into the noosphere, a realm where emotions are living creatures and Jungian archetypes are real. Affecting change in the noosphere impacts humanity by supporting or undercutting emotions, thereby affecting people’s politics. Some would change the noosphere to make humanity more conservative or liberal. Others will defend the noosphere, allowing humanity to choose their own destiny.

First, the setting:

  • Besides the biosphere (the physical world), there is the noosphere (the mental world), also called the collective unconscious. Every human’s mind is connected to the noosphere via emotions. It is broken into regions based on culture (such as New York / East Coast / American / Western).
  • Normally, you cannot visit the noosphere. However, several organizations have the technology to project a human’s consciousness into the noosphere while their body remains in the biosphere.
  • In the noosphere, emotions are living creatures. Affecting a great number of a particular emotion-based creature in the noosphere will affect that emotion in humans in the biosphere. (For example, killing a lot of fear-based creatures will make humanity less fearful.)
  • Since emotions often underlie politics, you can change people’s politics (more conservative, more liberal, etc.) by making changes in the noosphere that affect emotions. You can even target specific political beliefs (pro-choice, anti-war, etc.).

Now, the characters:

  • The PCs are social scientists that work for the Teilhard Institute for Applied Psychology. They dive into the noosphere and either 1) protect it against those who would harm the noosphere for political gain, or 2) work to make the world more liberal or conservative.
  • Rather than the usual attributes based on physical/mental traits, attributes are based on the equipment used to project a consciousness into the noosphere.
    • Coherence: Strength of your presence in the noosphere. If you have a strong coherence, you can more easily impact the noosphere–but it’s easier for things in the noosphere to impact you in turn.
    • Signal Clarity: Quality of data transferring between your mind and the noosphere. If you have a strong signal quality, you can easily perceive things in the noosphere–but it’s easier for things in the noosphere to perceive you in turn.
    • Bandwidth: Space available for data to flow between your mind and the noosphere. If you have plenty of bandwidth, you can move more quickly in the noosphere. You can also “upload” equipment, but that clogs your bandwidth and makes you move slower.
  • Characters also have an Anima/Animus power (which provide superpowers in the noosphere but can spiral out of control) and a Coursework ability (bonuses to certain situations based on the type of social science you studied).
  • Hit points are cortisol levels. “Dying” in the noosphere leads to potentially-fatal seizures.
  • Equipment is “uploaded” to the noosphere by the Teilhard Institute while on a dive.

The mechanics:

  • Each attribute is rated with a die type ranging from d4 to d20, such as Coherence d8.
  • These attributes have two paired skills, and the range of that die type is split between the two skills such as Coherence d8: Potency 1-3 / Immunity 4-8. To succeed on an attribute check, players roll within the range with the die type. In the above sample attribute, you would need to roll 1-3 on a d8 to attack something in the noosphere.
  • Emotion-creatures have their own die types for the three attributes, but they roll against the player’s ranges. Weak creatures have d20, and they roll against your Potency (1-3 on a d20) to hurt you. Strong creatures have d4, and they against your Potency (1-3 on a d4) to hurt you.
  • During the game, players can adjust the ranges on the fly (but not the die types) to suit the situation.

If that wasn’t weird enough, here are some unique aspects of Teilhard’s Agents:

  • The game includes specific mechanics for changing a culture’s political views on real-world issues, such as abortion or welfare. Want to remove capital punishment? Decrease the amount of anger, disgust, and aggressiveness in the noosphere and people will turn away from it.
  • Creatures in the noosphere are based on emotions and include Mourner-in-the-Rains, Bold Jimmys, Greedlings, and Sisters of Perpetual Agony. Each has its own unique ability, such as the power to make you cry or seduce you into giving up on the real world. Some, like the Shouting Monks, are almost cute. Others, like the Boogymen, are downright scary.
  • Besides these emotion creatures, Jungian archetypes (Wise Old Man, Earth Mother, Trickster, Hero, etc.) live in the noosphere and have their own agendas. Dealing with a pack of Shouting Monks might be easy, but what happens with Trickster decides to “play” with your characters?
  • Character “powers” will be based on repressed emotional drives/disorders. If your character craves attention, she could have the power to force creatures to pay attention to her (as opposed to another character). However, these powers come with a dark version that can manifest, such as forcing other PCs to pay attention to your character.

Teilhard’s Agents will be available as a Kickstarter in mid-2014. Interested in contributing? Send us an email and we can talk!

Outlive Outdead Companion now on sale!

OOC CoverFinally, after many months of hard work, the Outlive Outdead Companion has been released! It is available now on DriveThruRPG for $12.99, which gives you five adventures for Outlive Outdead; six human and six zombie pregens for each adventure (a total of 60 characters!); new equipment for different time periods; and a bevy of new talents and capabilities. It’s 204 pages–nearly twice as long as the original rulebook–and available as a PDF. A softcover POD version is under review and should be available in a few days.

Many thanks to the fine designers who helped make this project a reality: Paul Baldowski, Steven Roman-Torres, and Stephen Whitehead. You guys rock!

As always, we are looking for folks to review our latest product. If you are willing to give an honest review, send me an email and we’ll get you a copy for free!

Outlive Outdead Companion almost done


Finally, the Outlive Outdead Companion is getting ready for release!

All of the writers have submitted their pieces and we’re mostly done with layout. We just need to proofread it and combine disparate files into one PDF, something mostly easy thanks to InDesign. We’re looking at a release date of anytime between 05/31/13 – 06/03/13, but we’ll keep you posted.

For those interested in buying a copy, it will be available through DriveThruRPG and Indie Press Revolution.

Genesis playtest going nicely

As we reported in April, our next product will be a setting generation roleplaying game called Genesis. (At least for now. Name subject to change and all that.) We’re in the middle of turn 2, and already we’re getting some fun results!

In Genesis, players take roles as major players in the setting. While rolling for various acts like spying on rival houses or hiring mercenaries, players create terms that add detail to the setting, such as the name of the spy or the mercenary company. Then players write short pieces about those terms. As the game progresses, the setting will become more and more detailed.

For example, here’s a link to the playtest wiki. Some of the terms there were created by players before the game began, but others are a direct result of their actions: Queensport, Chance Letrunde, and Blue Cliff. Each began as a dry, rules-related action such as, “Roll under your Wealth attribute for success.” But this is the power of Genesis; we take boring, easily-ignored rolls and build upon them to create a vibrant setting.

Of course we’re identifying problems, most noticeably getting used to the rules and watching for emails being sent to spam folders undeservingly. But the core of the game–using roleplaying to generate setting details–is working! At least, that’s our opinion. Check out the links above and tell us what you think!

Genesis begins playtesting

genesisGenesis is a setting generation roleplaying game, and it’s our next product. (Besides the Outlive Outdead Companion, of course.)

What the hell is a setting generation roleplaying game? It’s a Lexicon, the company rules from Reign, and D&D/Pathfinder. If that’s not explanatory enough, it’s a hybrid game combining fantasy roleplaying and blogging. You create a setting (or add details to an existing setting) simply by playing it! Oh, and you play entirely online through emails and blog posts.

First, as in a traditional roleplaying game, players will enter conflicts and roll to resolve them. However, players take roles as noble Houses instead of individuals. These Houses have five attributes—Arms, Land, Lore, Sovereignty  and Wealth–which are used in courses of action. Players can send spies into rival Houses, hire mercenaries to improve their army, build keeps or fortifications in their lands, raid trade caravans, swindle rivals in a fake investment deal, and so on. There are pre-defined actions to choose from, but players can create their own actions on the fly. If you can think of it, you can roll for it.

There is a saying—“History is written by the victors.” In this game, that is literally true. When players win a conflict, they also win the honor of writing a piece describing their victory. These entries will be hosted online on a wiki or blog site, and they will help define the fantasy setting. After the first few turns, your setting will have NPCs, locations, traditions, and history, all written by players during the course of the game. That’s how you generate a setting while playing Genesis!

Unlike Lexicons, Genesis has no set alphabet or other constraint on what to write each turn. The length of turns, and these written pieces, can vary turn by turn so everyone can play at their leisure. This game adapts to your schedule, not the other way around!

 EXAMPLE: Mike is running House Tastail. He wants to improve the defenses of his lands, so he builds a palisade around one of his villages. Mike rolls and is successful, so he writes an entry on the blog:

The Woodwall: In response to numerous orc raids, the villagers of Hearth’s Glow realized they needed more protection than wandering heroes or a few knights. Under the guidance of Ryan Tastail, second born son of Bryndon Tastail, the people ignored the nearby oaks and felled feynwood trees to build a wall around their village. Feynwood can crack iron, and the project went slowly, but by choosing these hearty trees for his wall, Ryan Tastail proved wise. The Woodwall was never breached, and still stands to this day.”

Right now, Genesis is undergoing playtesting to work out the kinks and bugs. We will be posting about the game in the future, but if you’re curious, head over to the Genesis playtest site hosted by Obsidian Portal. You can also download the Genesis Quickstart Document to get an idea of how the rules work.

As usual, send us an email if you have any questions or comments, especially if you think you’d like to playtest Genesis.

Outlive Outdead Companion shambles closer

OOC CoverThe Outlive Outdead Companion is slowly getting closer to publication, as befits a book about zombies. Inside, you’ll find five new adventures for Outlive Outdead, including:

    • Extinction Event: Neanderthals in southern Spain fight zombies and struggle for the survival of their entire species. No guns here; try stone clubs and atlatls.
    • Le Morte: King Arthur has died, and Mordred has raised an army of zombie knights to take Camelot. Fighting zombies is hard enough, but fighting zombies in plate mail with swords is another thing.
    • The Jacobite Dead: Scottish highlanders fighting zombies. Do you need more?
    • Teufels of Belleau Wood: A World War One battle between French/American forces and the Germans. They all work together when the dead rise from the battlefields–or do they?
    • Sterilization: A future Earth complete with alien races is overrun with zombies. The government is going to “sterilize” all of Earth. Can you escape the planet in time?

Each adventure comes with new rules to make that time period unique. For example, “Sterilization” includes rules for alien zombies, while “Extinction Event” features a host of new talents and motivations that fit a Stone Age experience.

Right now, we are finishing the adventures and laying out the product. Our goal is to publish the Outlive Outdead Companion in May.

Back from the Dead

Happy Bishop Games has been suspiciously quite of late. That’s because I’ve been dealing with some nasty real world problems that took all of my time and energy. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel and I can get back to games!

Speaking of which, although our Kickstarter for the Outlive Outdead Companion did not succeed … we are publishing it anyway! It will include five adventures, each set in a different time. More on that in the coming days.

We are also entering the playtest phase for a new game! This is a setting generation roleplaying game. What’s that? Well, I’ll tell you soon–I promise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some playtesters to talk to.

Stone Age zombies

Paul Baldowski, one of the excellent game designers working on our Kickstarter project Outlive Outdead Companion, has posted an actual play report from his Stone Age zombie adventure, “Extinction Event.” There’s some real fun things in his adventure, the least of which is fighting zombies with an atlatl and an avalanche. Hey, when you don’t have shotguns ….

There’s only seven days left for our Kickstarter, so what are you waiting for? Did we mention that, besides a Stone Age adventure, there’s also zombie adventures with King Arthur, Bonnie Prince Charlie, a Prohibition-Era prison warden, and a zombie sperm whale? Yes!


Outlive Outdead rulebook now on sale

Yes folks, the Outlive Outdead rulebook is now on sale at both DriveThruRPG and Indie Press Revolution. Both are PDFs and cost $12.99. I’m still working with DriveThruRPG to provide a softcover version with their POD system, but if you want a softcover or hardcover version, send me an email and I’ll get you one.

There’s also a two-game bundle over at DriveThruRPG where you can purchase both Outlive Outdead and Triune for only $20.98.  Two great PDFs for the price of one!

Though there is another option. Over at the Kickstarter page for the Outlive Outdead Companion book, you can get a PDF of the Outlive Outdead rulebook by adding $9.00 to any reward level. That’s right! The entire rulebook for $3.99 less than the online stores! But the Kickstarter only has a few weeks left. If you want this, you’d better order it now!