Copyright © 2019 The RPG Lab. All Rights Reserved.
Q: Let’s kick things off by you guys telling everyone who you are, what you do and where people can find you?
A: The INVICTUS Stream consists of Chris Visseau, Harlan Guthrie, Justin James & Mycl Barber, longtime friends and gaming buddies. We enjoy all things nerdy and decided to focus on Role Playing for a few reasons; the main being that we always tended to Role Play a little differently than other groups. We always focused more on the Character side; who they were, what they enjoyed, their fears, hopes, dreams etc. We wanted to establish a group that put Characters first. Our second reason that we focused on Role Playing is that we wanted to develop a sense of Community within the Role Playing community.
Role Playing is an amazing pastime, but can be intimidating for new player to join; with the INVICTUS Stream we wanted to encourage those who are interested in this world (and those who may not even know about it) to experiment and find a way to break into the scene by creating a safe and ego-free community. No one here is a Master of the craft of storytelling, each of us thrives in some areas and falters in others, but that’s what makes us unique. We’re average guys who enjoy telling stories and we want to share those stories with as many people as possible.
You can find us on:
Q: How did the INVICTUS group form?
A: Being friends first helped to easily dive into the “named group” format, but more so we wanted a sense of responsibility to the GM and the other players. By picking a day of the week and sticking to it we forced ourselves to set aside the time to play, this was the first step. After a bit of debate we decided that we wanted to offer the content we provided to anyone who would like to watch and thus created the YouTube Channel. In truth, the Group was formed out of necessity; the need to create a responsibility in each of us to commit weekly to each other, but it grew from there into a much more open and exciting beast altogether.
Q: What was the first game you played together offline?
A: Mycl was the first of us to fall into the RPG world and he pulled Chris into his world a while after that, who isn’t drawn to a world of Fantasy and Fighting? The first game we ever played together as a group had to of been Dungeons and Dragons. I just can’t remember if it was 3.5 ed. or 4Th. More than likely, it was 3.5. The first truly memorable game would have been “The Rake.” Justin began playing in University and was also introduced by Chris. Finally like Dominos Harlan was drawn into RPG’s by all the above, however took a while to fully see the potential of what Role Playing could offer.
The first “official” game of The INVICTUS Stream was “Dragon Age: Game 1 – Part 1” however years before that they gathered in Harlan’s basement for a homebrew game that he created. Again, Harlan was never fully convinced of the RPG format (being a video gamers and not a huge fan of this world previously) he decided to develop a one-shot adventure called “The Rake of Addison Town.” The story followed the players who woke up in a wrecked car and slowly regained their memories as they played through the story.
The game was a success and ultimately led to the birth of The INVICTUS Stream.
Q: What made you decide to transition online?
A: Originally it was out of necessity, with the distance between each player increasing with age, the need for a new mode of gaming took the form of YouTube, however it took a bit of convincing. After a short while it became about the Community we would be establishing.
But the start was definitely distance. We played a few games (Pathfinder, Dragon Age, Call of Cthulhu) with some of us around the table and Justin joining us via skype but the google hangouts format allows us to get together when we normally couldn’t.
However, nothing beats having the opportunity to actually spend time with each other around an actual table.
Q: Why did you guys choose the live streaming format?
A: We wanted to provide an opportunity for the Community to interact with us in real time so that they could alter the way the game is being played. Again, community involvement is what separates us from other Channels – we cater the game to the viewers and constantly look to them for advice.
Q: Why did you guys choose to do it over Youtube?
A: Harlan had used YouTube to stream games in the past with other players and decided that it would be the best format for our games – however we’re not set to it. There may be a switch to Twitch if it proves to be a better venue for us.
Q: How did you find starting up, were there any difficulties?
A: The nature of the beast being online definitely led to some internal discussions about what was truly important: US having fun, or it being fun for the VIEWERS. While we still are constantly trying to find a balance between the two we have found that when we’re having fun the community is having fun. In regards to content it’s always a fine line between keeping it light and innocent and bothering the players or viewers, we of course all have very droll humor and that sometimes can get us in trouble, but ultimately it’s our trouble to cause.
I think we will forever search for the balance of making an entertaining show and doing what we love!
Mycl: I’m going to say it. I was the biggest naysayer-even almost dropping out after a few of the Dragon Age sessions. Not because I wasn’t enjoying them, but because I’m really more of private person. I really just wanted to focus on playing. It was Chris’ observation of the “community” that is building, Harlan’s description of creating an atmosphere “like one of water rides you go down where other people get to shoot you with water cannons”, the great feedback and interaction we are getting from everyone joining, the fact that I don’t really need to wear pants, and Justin’s dreamy eyes, that convinced me to stay on.
Q: Do you have any advice for those wanting to start their own live-plays?
A: Don’t worry so much about what’s going on behind the camera, have fun and genuinely enjoy what you’re doing & don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how we grow.
Q: I know you guys are big on the social aspect of your games and include the community you have built. What started that and could you explain a little more about it?
A: Years ago, on a Saturday night, Harlan was really craving some Role Playing and he stumbled across another Live Stream. However as he watched the players were continually forgetting plot points, clues & story notes to progress the story. It was from this frustration that birthed the idea of utilizing the community as a whole rather than just tell them to sit and watch the show. Community is so important to us, which is why we always want to rewards those who watch – the very reason we came up with the XP rewards system – a way to allow those watching to get something out of it that they can then spend in game while they watch.
Q: It seems that this all really derived from Numenera. What initially drew you to it?
A: In truth is started with Dragon Age, however Numenera has been particularly popular thanks to a few key elements. The first being an engaging and interested story & characters put together by Chris our GM, secondly the Communities involvement and communication with us while we play and finally and perhaps most importantly a fantastic game which goes along side with the support Monte Cook Games has given us retweeting, following, like, sharing and subscribing to our content. There is no greater feeling then having the creators give us their blessing when we run a game.
Q: Did you run a play test before hand or DID YOU guys just throw yourselves in?
A: We threw ourselves in! Half the fun it figuring it out as we go along.
Q: How did you find the character creation?
A: Mycl: I feel like, even if I were new to RPGs, the Numenera character creation process was well thought out and simple to follow. Although, I do find that the skills selection may be a little too open-ended for people just starting out, the “Character Descriptor” and “Character Focus” aspects are outstanding ways to define your character. Unknowingly, Justin and I both created Glaives that fuse flesh and steel.
Thanks to the “Character Descriptor” we were able to create characters with enough differences that drove the character’s back-stories into very different directions. We also had very different visions of how the “Character Focus” affected Pivot and Tharik.
In a more standard RPG we could have both easily ended up making “tanks” that may have had different personalities but were mechanically identical. I feel like that “Character Descriptor” changed enough that, not only were they played differently due to personalities and backgrounds, there were enough game mechanic differences that changed the way they looked to resolve challenges.
Chris: I really like the Cypher system with the one sentence description that encapsulates the characters.
Q: [For Chris] How did you find the rules and set up?
A: I really loved the simplicity of Numenera. The rules really supported the storytelling aspect of Role Playing, in that the “rules” were not going to get in the way. Especially the element where the GM makes no rolls. It was no longer me against the players but an ally watching them face obstacles. I don’t have the highest intellect pool but after reading it over twice I felt comfortable enough with the rules and the set up to dive in.
Q: [For Chris] How did you find running the game in general?
A: I found running this game to be easier than other RPGs I have GMed. I am lucky to have some experienced PCs that really supported my own creative process. I felt few boundaries running this game because of the PCs, and the nature of Numenera being a mixed genre game both Sci-Fi and fantasy. When things did not go as planned the freedom that the Cypher system gives to creating on the spot really came in handy.
Q: [For Players] How easy was it to grasp the concepts of the game? Such as setting, rules and ability systems?
A: Harlan: It took me sometime (not sure I even still get it all) but generally it’s pretty accessible.
Justin: I had read some of Monte Cook and Shanna Germain’s short stories before our first game so I was at least somewhat familiar with the world. The cypher system was a totally new concept for me though and I was very pleasantly surprised by how much creativity it encouraged.
Mycl: Game 1, Part 9- I feel like I’m getting the hang of it. For Numenera, I’ve only ever skimmed the rules when I need them. For us its always more about the story than the rules anyway. Numenera is a great system for people new to RPGs as the systems mechanics are simple conceptually. When we screw up a rule the community lets us know, and I think that’s fantastic, we try to fix it for next time.
Q: [For Chris] How did you come up with the setting and the plot? What inspired you and if something from the Numenera books, what specifically?
A: The plot was the very first thing I wanted to think about. I came up with an end epic “thing” that the Characters had to face and then chunked backwards into three main sections. From there I added details, figuring out different side stories and pieces that would allow them to find success. I made the big details inevitable but how they get there and how they react completely open. I think this method helped drive the plot but also stayed open enough as to not railroad the PCs.
The setting was my own interpretation of the Ninth world from reading the Amber Monolith and the Core rulebook to looking at illustrations and other fans stories about the Ninth world. I set the story in the Ninth World but I changed it to suit my needs, creating cities towns and landscapes to give substance.
I took inspiration form the things I was reading or watching at the time. During the planning of this campaign I watch a lot of Star Trek the Next Generation and read Patrick Rothfuss’ novel The Name of the Wind. The Numenera Core rulebook as well as the Technology Compendium also really inspired me. The books are inspiring to read and look at but to pick one thing that wrapped my head around the potential that this game the most was the short story The Amber Monolith.
Q: [For Players] What did you think to the campaign, the setting, and those you met and defeated along the way?
A: Harlan: 10/10
Justin: Chris did a good job keeping everyone engaged in the main plot line of the campaign. I really liked how he incorporated some of our character backstories into the plot (The Jackdaw imposter)
Mycl: Not just trying to pump his ego, but I think Chris has done an incredible job. Every time I get to sit down and play with these guys I am truly grateful. Harlan, Chris, Justin and Alex, are not only creative GMs and players, they’re good people to have in your life.
The situations that have been presented to us have been creative, challenging, and unique. Specifically for the Numenera campaign, Chris has done a great job of giving the NPC’s individual personalities. I still feel bad about Tharik ripping of the face of one of worm-faced people. Chris explained to us after the game that they were innocent farmers that we startled.
Q: [For Chris] What in your opinion, makes a good campaign?
A: Variety. Everyone wants something different. Some want more dialogue some want more fighting some want more puzzles. A campaign can’t please all players all the time but it should please everyone once in a while. Also, what the Characters do or don’t do should matter.
Q: [For Players] What do you guys think makes a good group dynamic
A: Harlan: Making decisions that your character would make without being so cut and dry that you have no choice.
Justin: Being able to bring other characters/players into the spotlight and being mindful of how much time you are spending in it yourself.
Mycl: Playing with people you enjoy hanging out with and being friends with beyond the gaming group . To add on to Harlan’s answer, often you will find that your character makes decisions that you yourself would not. Those decisions may not make sense based on concepts such as “power gaming” or “min/maxing”, they may be offensive to other characters, etc.,…remember that you’re playing a game.
Don’t take it personally. Even if Pivot were to stab Tharik in the back, I’m not going to mad at Justin. If Pivot did it, there was probably an in-game motivation for Pivot to do it-even if I as a player was not privy to that knowledge. If Dennis Collins killed Brayden (Running Dead), I wouldn’t be mad at Harlan (Brayden was an immature ass anyway).
We’ve discussed it on one of our Facebook post thanks to one of community members, but being a good player, like being a good GM, takes practice. It is just as much your responsibility as a player to insure you are having a good time as it is the GM’s.
Q: Who was the most memorable NPC?
A: Harlan: The lady with the black tooth in the first game.
Justin: Geome Kitrick. As the main quest giver and a giant machine cyborg thing, he definitely comes to mind first when I think of the campaign.
Mycl: The freaky frog creature with the people’s heads on it and ignorant farmers.
Chris: Tusk although he was not around much, that twitchy sun of a bitch stuck in my mind.
Q: What was the most memorable setting?
A: Harlan: The giant hand out of the ground in the second game.
Justin: The room in the mines where we awoke in separate minecarts that were one by one being rolled into a portal.
Mycl: The river. Tharik is trained in swimming and so I thought the swim would be an easy one. Chris, in combination with poor dice rolls, decided that his internal metal structure made it not so.
Chris: The bog where the PCs met some interesting Ninth world creatures.
Q: What was your best memory of the campaign?
A: Harlan: Saving the young girl from the supposed Jackdaws
Justin: Injecting an enemy’s neck with a cypher called ‘The Bushwacker’ that immediately made his neck swell too large for his body and respiratory system to handle.
Mycl: The community involvement. Be it through their real-time Facebook comments (which were not only funny and scary fast but often helped us stay on track and remember important details), their insanely creative Cyphers contest submissions, their use of XP to help us, or give Chris GM Intrusion ideas and NPC names.
Come to think of it, I’m also remembering Sharpie Jackdaws tattoos and T-shirt ideas.
Chris: Shazz accidentally syringing Geome Kitrick.
Q: Now that the campaign is coming to a close, what are you guys moving onto next?
A: Next we have Running Dead, then we’re doing another The End of the World, after that another one shot adventure and FINALLY we begin CALL OF CTHLHU. Call of Cthulhu is a Dark Fantasy Role Playing game by Chaosium, set in the 1920’s where the Characters are investigators looking being the curtain of reality into the darkened unknown abyss.
It’s atmospheric & filled with terror, not for the faint of heart – especially with Harlan as GM.
Q: Will you ever be returning to the Ninth World?
A: You’ll just have to wait and see 😉
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say?
A: Yes! Please come visit us on our Facebook page & join the Facebook group. We welcome all range of players from newbies to total pros and we’re always up for a discussion. We’re constantly looking for ways to involve the players more in the game and if you feel like making a difference in the game, with The INVICTUS Stream – you make the calls.
Don’t forget to watch the finale https://youtu.be/YEAqm4x70x8
Also visit out YouTube page and if you like what you see let us know why liking the videos and subscribing! Or visit any of the other various sites we exist on! We’d love to say hi and hang out!
See you around the table!