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Author Topic: Ember [game concept]  (Read 2743 times)
Graham W
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2005, 10:18:58 PM »

I like the idea that committing an evil act makes it easier to commit evil in the future. There's something very nice in that.

What I like less, at the moment, is a. that there's a fixed idea of what evil is and b. that it's the GM who decides what is evil.

What first got me excited about this game was the idea of a world where the gods have died. That raises the whole question of: who knows what is right and wrong, when there's no god to tell you? What do you do with your life, if there's no god to give you a purpose? And so on.
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JohnG
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2005, 10:59:27 PM »

Idea.  Perhaps each player could be asked to pick his character's moral code, with only a few acts like murder being commonly accepted parts of everyone's moral code.  These would decide which acts that the character would personally consider evil enough to be corrupting.  This gives the GM a solid basis for determining when to give out corruption so his own personal morals won't determine it, while still allowing for the moral dilemma faced by the players with no firmly established order and way of life? 

This also allows characters to, on an individual basis, work through their own perceptions of right and wrong.  Other characters moral codes will influence them, while they influence others, and thus right and wrong will at first be a shaky and uncertain thing.  If you consider the fact that in the 1800s a horse thief was hung, and now people shoplift and get a slap on the wrist, this evolving morality isn't too far fetched.

Also, instead of determining what they'd want their purpose to be at creation, I think characters should determine their purpose through their experiences in the world.  Perhaps adventurers are those seeking a purpose in a world where the only rule is survival?

Example: A farmer is forced to flee his village when cultists raid it for fresh sacrifices.  He falls in with a group of "adventurers" and begins to travel with them.  As they visit villages and do what little they can for others, he slowly realizes that if no one does anything, the cultists will never stop!  He decides that his purpose will be to protect innocent people from the cultists by hunting them down wherever they hide.

How does that sound?
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2005, 03:17:10 AM »

Heya,

Quote
Idea.  Perhaps each player could be asked to pick his character's moral code, with only a few acts like murder being commonly accepted parts of everyone's moral code.

Sounds a lot like Alignment to me.  Here's what I'd suggest instead.  Rather than evil vs. good have Selfish vs. Selfless acts be triggers for GM dice.  This way it is much more objective for the GM and other players to see when a character is acting corrupt or when a character is acting virtuous.

Okay, let's talk about reward systems real fast.  IMHO, there should be rewards for both selfish and selfless acts.  How would these things tie into the following:

1. Character advancement
2. Narration rights of both GM and Players
3. Conflict and/or Task Resolution

Those are very, very important to know.  And it may seem like I'm asking the impossible here, hehe, but I'd like you to be both brief and detailed about how you would address all three of those things in your system. :)

Also, let's talk about other aspects of a game design real quick.  The situation and perhaps premise of your game is "the world has become corrupt and the PC's are tempted to do likewise."  So, how does every aspect of your game point towards that situation?

-How does character creation set up the PC's to immediately face the choice of Virtue vs. Corruption?

-How does the combat system offer opportunities for Virtue and Corruption?

-How does the magic system offer opportunities for Virtue and Corruption?

-How does the setting encourage players to address the situation and provide the GM tools to assist them?

-And like I asked above, how do the Reward Systems reinforce that sort of play? (very important btw)

Every part of your game should be tied into what the main theme of your game is.  It should all point back and address what you think is the most fun part of your game: the gods are dead and the world is a mess, what ya gonna do about it?  I don't necessarily expect you to have answers to all those questions immediately, so take them one at a time if you wish :)  I have a few more questions, but I'll save them for later.

Peace,

-Troy
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JohnG
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« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2005, 11:41:44 AM »

Well Troy let's see what I can do here to adress what you've brought up.

I do like the premise of selfless and selfish acts.  To adress the moral code thing I was talking about, I actually had a new idea in regards to that.  Instead of picking a unique moral code, each character picks a SINGLE act that they consider evil, that must be different from each other players.  That way instead of having a moral code that simply acts as a different kind of alignment, they only have one act that they've deemed a corrupting action due to upbringing or personal experience.

I do hope you also enjoy the idea of standing by and not helping others when cruel acts are being performed?  It reminds me of a quote from "The Replacement Killers" where Mira Sorvino's character is talking to Chow Yun Fat's and she says "Standing by and doing nothing is just as bad as pulling the trigger."  or something along those lines.  That's when his character finally decides to stand up and do something.


As for wiring it into the reward system.  My idea for character advancement in the overall scheme is that characters will have one major purpose that they determine for themselves, and a cycling current purpose.  Each time they complete their current purpose they will gain XP, with no better term to use at the moment, not from killing monsters or digging up treasure.  This adresses their need to find a new purpose when their gods are no longer there to guide them.

So how do I add this into the reward system?

1: Surviving is hard.  Surviving while taking advantage of others is much easier.  Characters who gain corruption while performing their purpose would lose "XP."  While characters who avoid corruption might gain extra XP for the additional struggle they've faced.

2: When characters have given dice to the GM to make them do "selfish" acts, the players give control of their character over to the GM for the duration of the selfish act if they lose the roll.  The characters who aren't corrupted at all have no fear of losing their rights to control of their character.

Also

Inspiration:  Selfless characters can use their good nature to inspire others to rise up and do good as well.  A character who has "good deeds" can "spend" one to take narration control from the GM in certain situations.  For example if a corrupt character fails the temptation roll near the selfless character, he can spend a "good deed" and take narration control.  He then narrates his character walking up to the corrupt character and basically "talking him down" or reminding him of what he's becoming.

Also it can be used with NPCs to inspire them to rise up.  An adventurer trying to convince the villagers to gather weapons and chase out the cultist who's pulling their elder's strings, would spend a "good deed" and control the narration.  He could then roleplay out his inspiring speech and convincing argument, and then narrate himself leading the villagers to oust the cultist.  This control would be limited of course, the player could declare that the villagers are following him, but he can't declare that the villagers follow him, seize the cultist, and throw a huge party for him cause he's so cool.  The narrator regains control right after the the mob is formed.  Also, inspiration requires that the character lead the NPCs, he can't just inspire them and send them on their way.


Fear:  Selfish characters have the hint of corruption that people have come to more easily recognize.  This means that they instantly increase corrupted peoples opinions of them, because the corrupt people often want to further tempt this possible ally.

Also it can be used with NPCs to force his will upon them.  An adventurer demanding food from a village or else, would spend a bad deed and control the narration.  He then roleplays out his demands and then narrates the villagers doing as he says.  This offers a bit more control over the scene than inspiration does, because the character can narrate all the way up until the NPCs have completed the task he demanded.  Inspiration only allows the character to narrate up until after the character has convinced the NPCs to follow him.

[Sidenote: Since this ability means "spending" deeds, perhaps each deed would not only grant a "good deed" point, but also assign a "Virtue" or "Corruption" point that doesn't get spent.  That way corrupt characters wouldn't simply clear their bad deeds by forcing people to do what they want.  So the "Corruption Point" would be what grants the dice to the GM, not the "Bad Deed" Point.

Also Inspiration and Fear would both not give characters carte blanche to do whatever in the world they want.  If they get carried away the GM can reclaim Narrative control simply so the game doesn't become ridiculous.]


3.  Honestly I have no idea haha.  Except for bonuses and penalties in social situations, I don't think it'd have much impact on other rolls.  I'm open to ideas.


So to answer the rest of your questions [jeeze Troy, you're sure making me think today! lol]

Quote
-How does character creation set up the PC's to immediately face the choice of Virtue vs. Corruption?

By having that single act they consider evil, characters may not realize that they're performing corrupting selfish acts until after they've met another character who points out the fact to them.  This means that every player will be facing the risk of those nasty corruption points if they're playing their character properly.  This also means that players will almost immediately be forced to roleplay!  Doing nothing while an act you consider evil is being performed will grant you "bad deeds" as well!

Example: Farmer Jim's adventuring group doesn't consider stealing to be an evil act!  So when one of his party members steals something, he quickly takes it and returns it quietly to avoid gaining a "bad deed" as well.  He then returns and explains to the party his own reason for thinking stealing is evil.  While they won't agree with him immediately, he's given them something to think about!

Quote
-How does the combat system offer opportunities for Virtue and Corruption?

Well, in the combat system I've included the ability to not only act but also to react outside of your own "turn".  Virtuous characters have the ability to take hits for other players, or to push them out of the way, tackle them, etc.  Corrupt characters could, as a reaction, grab a bystander and throw them in the way, or use them as a human shield.

Quote
-How does the magic system offer opportunities for Virtue and Corruption?

Magic by its very nature is incredibly dangerous and users are easily corrupted.  Navigating the complexities of magic and learning by trial and error is a hard road to travel.  Corrupt gods will give magic users many opportunities to learn how to control their magic, for a price of course, since powerful followers like these are always handy!  Magic users will be able to buy "corrupt magic" and "normal magic."  Any spell can be bought corrupt at a lower XP cost, but you gain a permanent corruption point that can never be removed.  Also corrupt magic will have some unique and powerful spells that are very tempting.

Quote
-How does the setting encourage players to address the situation and provide the GM tools to assist them?

Players will, in the grand scheme of things, have two choices.  They can wander aimlessly while taking on quest after quest or try and make an impact in the world around them.  Whether for good or for evil, this is part of the overall theme, the need to make an impact on your world instead of simply letting things happen!

So asides from setting the scene and bringing the world to life for the players, the GM has to consider the characters' motivations and put them into situations where they'd feel sympathetic to those in need or whatever the situation is.  He should also frequently let them see that people all over the world are suffering, not just individual villages.  Scenes with refugees fleeing down the road, or burned down villages riddled with bodies, should be the tip of the iceberg.

Example 1: Warrior Sarah has arrived in a village with her adventuring party.  The GM describes a young girl running up to them and asking them to help her find her lost puppy who ran into the demon infested woods.  Warrior Sarah and her group will probably consider the opposition and the reward [fight demons to get happy girl and living puppy, yeehaw], and either be soft hearted enough to accept, or refuse and keep walking.

Example 2: Warrior Sarah's village was ransacked by a warlord and she was the only member to survive!  The GM describes the party entering a village that's in ruins, and tells them that the village elder runs up to them.  He explains that his village was ransacked by a local warlord who is demanding that they submit to his rule!  They desperately need help or they'll have no choice but to accept a tyrant's rule!  Sarah is certainly more likely to agree since she hates warlords!

GMs should also use ideas like hunger, exhaustion, etc.  These will give characters further motivation to simply take what they want if they're refused, as well as inspiration to continue on a path of virtue when the poor starving farmer brings in the adventurers and feeds and houses them even though he can't afford to.  This could also give the characters another opportunity for a short term "purpose"!  Why is the farmer doing so badly, maybe his lands are cursed or haunted?  Perhaps the characters could pay him back by helping him in some way before they go?

That's all I can think of, any ideas?

Quote
-And like I asked above, how do the Reward Systems reinforce that sort of play? (very important btw)

As I stated earlier with the extra XP for virtue, XP penalty for corruption, the reward system will reinforce the concept.  But also, if a character completes a purpose with virtue, he will be allowed to pick one more act he considers evil as long as another member of the group has introduced him to the selfishness of the act.  This means that players will be able to roleplay their characters gaining an understanding of right and wrong, and therefore being more likely to avoid corruption due to their actions.  Characters who complete a purpose with selfishness will not be able to do this, leaving them to roleplay their characters stunted moral growth as the rest of the group grows more heroic and selfless.


I hope you like these ideas.  I look forward to more questions and comments.
 
Thanks!
John
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
JohnG
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2005, 01:21:48 PM »

if there's anyone who'd be willing to help me out with my setting on a messenger service so I can bounce ideas more quickly than "post, wait, post, wait."  I'd appreciate that.  I have AIM, MSN, and Yahoo.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2005, 01:44:58 PM »

if there's anyone who'd be willing to help me out with my setting on a messenger service so I can bounce ideas more quickly than "post, wait, post, wait."  I'd appreciate that.  I have AIM, MSN, and Yahoo.

Actually, it is considered better to sit and wait around here. Time to think gives time to really understand what is being discussed, to digest it, to roll it around in your head, to look at it from different angles, to absorb it. The "fire-off-a-post/reply-as-quick-as-possible" ideal normally found in on-line venues is frowned on around here, and waiting a day or more to post a response, after sleeping on it, is not uncommon.

Also, have you looked at any games with strong moral themes built into them, and ENCOURAGED by or tied directly to their mechanics? "Sorcerer", for example? Also, I think "Dogs in the Vineyard"? And "Riddle of Steel", which can allow the players to create their own themes of morality?  Etc.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
JohnG
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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2005, 01:46:11 PM »

ok guess I'll stick to waiting then.

Yes I own Sorceror.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
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Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
JohnG
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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2005, 06:51:06 PM »

Ok, I'm gonna start a new thread with the revised concept that I've come up with using people's suggestions!
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2005, 08:56:10 AM »

Heya,

Before you do that let me comment on a few things here:

 
Quote
Instead of picking a unique moral code, each character picks a SINGLE act that they consider evil, that must be different from each other players.  That way instead of having a moral code that simply acts as a different kind of alignment, they only have one act that they've deemed a corrupting action due to upbringing or personal experience

To me it would seem a rather simple feat for the players to just avoid that SINGLE act that would corrupt them.  In order to address the conflict, the GM would have to constantly put them into a position where that one act was the only solution.  That sounds like Force to me and Force is bad.  Giving a more general guideline is preferable IMO.

Quote
I do hope you also enjoy the idea of standing by and not helping others when cruel acts are being performed?


Yes, I do like that very much.  Ever catch the last episode of Sienfeld?

Quote
My idea for character advancement in the overall scheme is that characters will have one major purpose that they determine for themselves, and a cycling current purpose.


So they will have one over-arching Destiny and many missions?  That sounds fine to me.  Some may complain that having a Destiny mechanic means that there will only be two modes of play in such a game: Embrace the Destiny, or Avoid It at All Costs.  Don't listen to that.  For your game, I think it will be fine, but I'd be very interested in hearing you explain how it will work.

Quote
3.  Honestly I have no idea haha.  Except for bonuses and penalties in social situations, I don't think it'd have much impact on other rolls.  I'm open to ideas

So what's the lure of corruption?  I must have lost that somewhere in our posting.

Quote
They can wander aimlessly while taking on quest after quest or try and make an impact in the world around them.

-IMHO, a system should never allow character to wander aimlessly,  They should always be addressing the situation.  But that's just a minor point.  I hope all this helps :)

Peace,

-Troy
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JohnG
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« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2005, 12:35:46 PM »

I think you might be right about the morality thing.  I'm having trouble figuring out how I'd even make it work right so I think I'll just leave it to the Virtue and Corruption thing like I was going with originally.  If I find some way to work the concept into character creation, then I will, but otherwise I'll just leave it mostly out of there and focus mainly on the themes application in game.

Destiny, characters will pick their own destiny, the only thing they won't pick is their cycling purpose which is basically their current quest.  Characters who fulfill their destiny won't be at a dead-end as far as playing is concerned, instead their destiny will progress along the same original "concept". 

Example: Farmer Jim wants to avenge the destruction of his village.  So that becomes his destiny.  When it's finally accomplished, he could change his destiny to something grander like killing the raider leader.  Once that's accomplished his goal might change to forming a militia to defend against the raids, and so on, and so on. 

Destiny will begin as a personal motivation, probably even a little selfish in the grand scheme of things.  Then a characters destiny slowly becomes a grander, more epic thing.  Farmer Jim's final Destiny could be to lead a grand army in terrible battle against the servants of a corrupt god.  So instead of simply stamping a destiny on, it will be an evolving thing that reveals itself to the character over time.  Since it becomes grander and more epic, it will also be more difficult.  After all, convincing people to form a militia against overwhelming odds is a hard sell.

As characters grow morally, they also grow in their capabilities, giving them the power and the desire to make greater and greater impacts on the world.  This would be left entirely to roleplay, but it would give the GM more to work with than simply throwing job offers at the adventurers.  Completing a destiny would grant XP just like missions, but it would be quite a bit more xp.

In fact XP will only be granted by completing missions and destinies.  There will be no monster slaying xp, or anything like that.

What's the lure of corruption?
It's easier, corrupt characters can force their will on NPCs, corrupt mages don't need to roll constantly to control their magic.  The GM should also be encouraged  to make the selfish way the easy way in nearly every situation.  Why rescue the village elder's daughter to get them to give you supplies, when you can steal them that night or pull out your weapons and make them do what you want?

Wandering:
The fact that there's a tangible reward of XP for completing destinies means that a character is unlikely to avoid his destiny unless he's just trying to be difficult.  Destinies also give your character the opportunity to be a hero.  Personally I've been in so many games where you kill X Lich for X amount of gold and then no one cares afterwards, that my head's about to explode. 

I'd also like to figure out some method of tracking reputation as well, but that's not a big factor yet,
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2005, 03:31:13 AM »

Heya,

Quote
Example: Farmer Jim wants to avenge the destruction of his village.  So that becomes his destiny.  When it's finally accomplished, he could change his destiny to something grander like killing the raider leader.  Once that's accomplished his goal might change to forming a militia to defend against the raids, and so on, and so on. 

Destiny will begin as a personal motivation, probably even a little selfish in the grand scheme of things.  Then a characters destiny slowly becomes a grander, more epic thing.  Farmer Jim's final Destiny could be to lead a grand army in terrible battle against the servants of a corrupt god.  So instead of simply stamping a destiny on, it will be an evolving thing that reveals itself to the character over time.  Since it becomes grander and more epic, it will also be more difficult.  After all, convincing people to form a militia against overwhelming odds is a hard sell.

That sounds fine.  Have you thought about the mechanics of it any?

Quote
The GM should also be encouraged  to make the selfish way the easy way in nearly every situation.

Encouraging the GM to do things is all well and good, but every important facet of your game should be backed up by rules and mechanics.  Otherwise, your ideas will lack impact.

Quote
In fact XP will only be granted by completing missions and destinies.  There will be no monster slaying xp, or anything like that.

This I like and should be a great part of your game.  I would really start focussing on the mission & destiny aspect of your game now, and being drafting mechanics to support them.
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JohnG
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« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2005, 11:05:27 PM »

Mechanics of the Destiny.  I'm not exactly sure how I should handle that.  Perhaps the best way to handle individual destinies is that the first destiny only requires the accomplishment of one goal, and each destiny thereafter has an additional goal tacked on.  The goals have to be lengthier and more involved than simple missions of course and require GM approval.

Example: In the Lord of the Rings, Aragorn only had to protect Frodo.  Next he had to save the king of Rohan and participate in the defense of Helm's Deep.  Then he had to gather the army of the dead, lead Rohan to Gondor's rescue, and save Gondor so he could become King.


How can I work it in?  I think cruel actions would give an extra dice, representing the temporary rush of satisfaction they get from giving into their baser impulses.  A temporary reward for the longterm punishment of a corruption point.  I think that nicely represents the nature of selfish acts.


XP for missions and destinies.  Missions are much simpler so the XP will be pretty simple.  Characters gain XP for every session it took to complete the mission, they also gain XP for the actual completion of the quest.  Good roleplaying and performing the quest in a virtuous manner would grant XP as well, while performing it in a selfish way would reduce xp.

Destinies are more complex than missions.  So XP is gained for each session, for completing the destiny, completing each goal in the destiny past the first.   Good RP, and performing the destiny in a virtuous manner.  Completing the destiny in a selfish way will reduce XP quite a bit more than it does on missions, and it will also grant a point of corruption since you've allowed your destiny to become twisted.

Mind you that XP will probably be dealt out in increments of 1.  So completing a 5 session mission virtuously with good roleplaying would get you 7 XP [5 for the 5 sessions, 1 for good roleplaying, and 1 for performing the mission virtuously]


How do those sound?  I'm trying to keep things simple so the system doesn't dominate the game.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2005, 09:24:29 AM »

Heya,

It sounds like you've got a solid idea of where you want to go with this game now.  My suggestion is that you try writting out a basic rules set and play-testing a little.  Post in Actual Play and here in Indie-Design as things come up.  Once you have a text ready and at least the Chargen played out some, post again and see what the community has to say about it :)

You've done good work, now it's time to get out there and put it in practice!

Peace,

-Troy
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JohnG
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« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2005, 10:20:00 AM »

Thanks Troy, you've been a huge help.

Thanks to everybody else who put their two cents in too!

Off to work!
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
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