Designer's Blog

April 24, 2017: The Next Book

We are hard at work on our next book, Dark Designs. We’ve written about 100-manuscript pages so far, and we have many more planned. We’ll write everything we want to add, and then we will lay it out. If needed, we’ll cut it down to fit 64-pages, and the additional content will be placed into future projects. What we’ve written so far:

  • A more detailed look at Quantum Black. We provide a look at its divisions and describe its facilities, including newly opened US and international facilities, including where top secret research is conducted. And meet your new friends at Operational Security, the ruthless professionals who do whatever it takes to make sure that Quantum Black operatives who can no longer be trusted are properly handled.
  • Details for Spider Teams, including information for running your own Spider Team campaign and additional options for character generation. The Spider Teams are the elite, combat teams who handle the toughest challenges and sometimes come back alive. We also supply sample Spider Team characters, ready for use as Player Characters or NPCs.
    Rules for “Default skills.” These are everyday skills that any player can use untrained without penalty.
  • New equipment, including new weapons and a modular system for designing your own drones. We also will include aquatic drones.
  • Four new rival organizations, ranging from rival corporations to cults.
  • Two new completely original horrors and one original godlike being.
  • New vehicles, including aircraft and watercraft.   

As we get closer to launch date, we’ll let you know what content has made the final version of the book, and what we’ll save for later. Until then, let us know what you’d like to see. Many of the above bullet items were specifically requested by our fans.

April 21, 2017: The Revised Edition

Some people may wonder why we worked on revising our core book instead of creating new product. The answer is that the core book was our first book ever, and we made mistakes in producing it. We learned from those mistakes, and we decided that we needed to correct those mistakes before moving forward.

The revised edition features corrected text and a much-improved layout, featuring cleaner typefaces, improved tables, and less whitespace. We want to thank our original designer, who did what we originally asked him to. But once we had a final book in our hands and time to think about it, we realized we needed to change the design.

January 30, 2017: Future Books

We've done a lot of research to determine what book format will provide the most value for our customers. It looks like 64-page, full color softback books and PDFs provide readers the most value for their money. Since we had been planning on 32-page books, this will require us to shift our announced lineup of planned books a bit, but you'll still get the same great content. More details soon!

However, the lineup will still feature Quantum Black: Dark Designs. Our work on that book was slowed by our revisions of the core book. However, in the process of revising the core book we developed a new layout template that is more attractive and will let us pack more content into each book. This will let us put a lot more material into Dark Designs. Since we've wrapped up the revision of the core book, we're now hard at work on Dark Designs. The cover is nearly done, and we have over 32 pages of the manuscript completed. Since the book will now be twice as long, we'll need to write quite a bit more for the manuscript before it is done. We're also still working on Project Charlemagne.

July 27, 2016: What We're Working On

We're working on several projects.

First, we've commisioned adventures. The first will be a jumpstart adventure that lets people try out Quantum Black. It will contain everything you need to play Quantum Black for one night: rules summary, characters, and an adventure. The second will involve a Quantum Black team stumbling upon a new horror. These are just the first two of a planned series of adventures.

Second, we plan additional core books (as detailed on our Products page). The current plan is for these to be 32-page, full color books. We like the 32-page format a lot, as it lets us produce product faster. We'll be able to get new books into your hands on a regular basis and be able to hit our Kickstarter deadlines more quickly. We also plan not to Kickstart the project until it is close to completion--this will allow for a very quick turn-around time.

These core books will flesh our the universe of Quantum Black while providing new rules, character options, equipment, rival organizations, and horrors to hunt. We have most of the first draft of our next core book, Quantum Black: Dark Designs, completed. We plan to wrap the first draft up after Gencon. Then we'll clean up the text, play test it, and lay it out. We've started to commision art.

We're also working on Project Charlemagne: Enter the Paladins. This will feature a whole new campaign for adventures within the world of Quantum Black. Scott has sketched this out and has another author working on pieces of it. When Dark Designs is wrapping up, he will move full force into completing this.

We've also started sketching out An Alien Skein and Bleeding Tech. These have both been outlined, and Scott is adding material to these as he has ideas.

April 24, 2016: The Story Behind the Title

So where did the title of the game come from?

At the beginning, the project was titled Against the Darkness (and traces of this title still exist in places in the book). However, while I liked this title, I thought it did not sound very catchy. I kept thinking we needed something better.

A major part of the game involves a technology company coming out of nowhere with advances in computer technology. The book never really gets into the details of these advances, because the detailing computer technology is beyond the scope of the game. However, the details certainly exist within my head. While these advances involve a variety of factors, such as new materials for processors, a large part of the advances involve successful implementation of quantum computing. Since the new tech company was going to be based around quantum computing, I thought I would likely have the name of the company in the game contain the word “quantum.”

Another central aspect of the game is the concept that ours is but one of many universes. The concept of multiple universes can be arrived at in multiple ways, but it is famously contained in the many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics. I realized that “quantum” had come up again. “Quantum” was becoming important enough in the game that I decided to explore having it in the title. But it needed something more than simply that word.

I settled on “black” fairly quickly. First, it invoked the “darkness” of the original title. But it also evoked the secretive, “black op” missions the characters would be involved in. In addition, the characters worked for a shadowy subsidiary of a much larger corporation, a subsidiary whose budget is largely hidden, much like the “black budgets” of some government agencies.

When I put them together, I ended up with Quantum Black. It was short, and it sounded fairly cool, and it was tied to many of the concepts of the game. And it could work for both the name of the subsidiary the characters work for and as a name for the game.  

April 3, 2016: Genesis of the Game

Ron and I have long been fans of the Ubiquity system that powers Hollow Earth Expedition. We discovered it playing games at conventions like Gencon and Origins Game Fair. We enjoyed it so much we began running games at home, but we also started running events at conventions ourselves for the talented people of Exile Game Studio. One of the things many of us were trying to do in our convention games was to demonstrate the versatility of the Ubiquity system. We began pushing the envelope with different time periods and genres. Eventually, we thought it would be exciting to formally develop a setting and publish it. We had a lot of fun running horror games at conventions, so we decided to create a modern day horror game.

No one had published a Ubiquity game set in modern times. In addition, not one had developed a horror-themed game for Ubiquity. We sketched out all of what we wanted to do in a horror setting, and we realized it would never all fit in one book: we would have to limit our first book to one type of horror. With the recent surge in popularity of Lovecraftian horror, we thought we would lead with that. However, since we ultimately didn’t want another “Cthulhu game” with a setting limited to that style of horror, we left Cthulhu out of the title. When future books add elements from other types of horror, we don’t want anyone complaining that we got Chupacabra-chocolate in their Cthulhu-peanut-butter.

The first book is a standalone core book that provides everyone with a complete horror setting. Unlike many other horror games, you work for a large corporation which sets you on missions to not merely defeat horrors, but collect samples and specimens. We also provide a full set of rules for the Ubiquity system. If you have never played the system, rest assured it is easy to learn and fast to run. People easily can learn to play it in only a few minutes.

If you are already are a Ubiquity player, the book gives you new material, including:

  • Modern equipment, including firearms, drones, and body armor.
  • A new system for resolving how horror tests characters’ sanity. The system is intuitive and works much like the combat system. Unlike many other games, you don’t end up in a downward spiral ending in permanent insanity.
  • A new system of casting spells using ritual magic
  • New rules for generating more powerful starting characters
  • New Motivations, Skills, Talents, and Flaws, and new rules for Contacts
  • Advice for creating one shot adventures

While the first book is self-contained, we have a variety of future books planned with more horrific creatures, organizations, equipment, and magic, along with a lot more material for the setting. Our goal is to produce a series of books that provide a variety of options for people to choose from to customize their game.

August 16, 2015: Dark Magic in Quantum Black

Today we will give you a taste of the magic system in Quantum Black! One of the things we wanted was a magic system that captured the dark, dangerous nature of magic in a horror setting.

We’ve been gaming a long time. We remember the first time we played a spell caster in a role-playing game. It was exciting and mysterious for us and our friends as we learned to use magic for the first time in an RPG. Now, well, magic has become exact, routine, and largely predictable. “I cast my fireball at this exact point 110 feet away, catching these 6 ogres in the radius but missing my 2 friends by a millimeter. I’m 8th level, so I will do approximately 28 points of damage to each ogre, 14 if they save, which is unlikely to happen for more than one of them, given my DC of 18 and their undoubtedly low Reflex saves.”

Yawn.

Former Cultist

In Quantum Black, there are not fixed spells, spells that if a player owns the game book, they know exactly how the spell works. Every spell is unique to that game. When your character finds an old text explaining how to bind a Shoggoth, you, the player, cannot simply look up “Bind Shoggoth” in the game book and know how it works.
So how can we give you a workable magic system without having the spells in the book?
Well, we do have write ups types of spells, such as a binding spell, where we describe basic mechanics. But then the GM customizes it. Can this spell bind any creature? Can it only bind certain types of creatures, such as creatures from space? Or can it bind only one sort of creature, such as Shoggoth?

Once the GM determines that, she sets other parameters. What are the penalties for critical failures? And even if it works, does the spell exact a price? Some spells exact a Dark Cost on the caster, their allies, or the world around them. Does this spell? Can the spell only be cast at certain times (“when the stars are right”) or do certain times make it easier to cast? Does it require certain components? Does it require items with a sympathetic connection to the target (such as Shoggoth ichor to bind a Shoggoth), or do such items merely make the spell work better? How big of an area does the spell impact? What is its range? Rules in our book detail each of these options.

The GM also can determine how accurate the ancient text containing the spell is. For example, maybe the author believed it required human blood but was simply wrong about that. Maybe the author always cast spells at midnight, so he did not bother mentioning that in the text.
Once the GM is done designing the spell (which only takes a minute or two), the player will have a Bind Shoggoth spell (but hopefully the GM comes up with a more colorful name than that). But it will be a version of the spell for her game, different from others in other games.
When players go to cast a spell, the GM needs to determine if any modifiers apply, such as from ley lines or optional components, etc. The caster can also be aided by others, making the spell easier to cast (perhaps they are holding hands and chanting).

Spells take place as extended actions. Casting a spell causes the caster to be mentally fatigued, depicted in the game as Sanity damage.

While this explanation took some time, within a game session magic is very fast for the player. It simply takes a few dice rolls. In playtests, casting spells was as fast as any other action.

This was a brief glimpse into magic. We hope this catches your interest. If you have questions or want to know more, feel free to ask on Facebook or email us. And please back our Kickstarter!  

August 15, 2015: Our Cover Is Coming Along

The incomparable Nikolai Ruskin continues to make progress on our cover. It is not finished--Nikloai is still making final revisions. But we thought it was time that we moved from sharing his early draft to a more finished product.

CoverWhat is going on in the cover? It is a scene from one of our playtest adventures, "The Hungry Dark." We ran the adventure at Origins and Gen Con in 2014 and Gen Con in 2015. Tasked with invesitgating what is killing homeless people in Detroit, the team travels to the city expecting to encounter a horrific monster. Instead, their explorations uncover a much bigger problem. The scene on the cover is exactly how the adventure's final scene played out at one the 2014 conventions. But this year at Gen Con, the team used legwork, drones, and surveillance cameras to avoid such a fate.

Can your teams play it just as smart?

August 7, 2015: Meet the Deep Ones!

Now that we're back from Gencon, we thought we would introduce our take on a classic horror--the Deep Ones!

Native to another dimension, Deep Ones are fish-human hybrids that dwell in undersea cities. Most are humanoid in size, but as they grow older they often increase in power, size and deformities. True amphibians, they are excellent swimmers and equally as comfortable walking on land. Deep Ones are  hard to spot, but when seen they are mostly a sickly dark grey-green color, with bulbous protruding eyes. Their bellies are often fish white. They can also speak, albeit very gutturally.

Deep One

Deep Ones are on average as intelligent as humans: in fact most were once human. Deep Ones can reproduce, but since their numbers are small and they want to maintain genetic viability and diversity, they often form alliances with human coastal communities. They trade fish and exotic jewelry for the right to mate with humans. Any resulting babies are born initially appearing human, but over time they succumb to their genetic inheritance. At first such changes are subtle, but around middle-age, the transformation hastens, and the new Deep One hears the song of the deep  and feels an irresistible urge to join its undersea brethren. The longer they wait to join their undersea kin, the harder it is for them exist on the surface. Eventually, a Deep One stranded on land will go insane if it cannot join its brethren. After the transformation is complete, the new Deep Ones typically slowly lose some of their human memories and skills. Humans allied with Deep Ones typically form a cult and worship the Deep Ones and their gods, Cthulhu and Dagon.

As Deep Ones age , they grow larger, stronger and wiser; while this process slows, it hypothetically never ends. The aging process allows for a Gamemaster to create many types and sizes of Deep Ones, with all sorts of different attributes and skills. Some Deep Ones find that as they age the mysteries of the universe open to them. These lucky few become Deep One mystics and priests. They are able to clearly retain memories of their hybrid human lives, and thus can possess any skills a human would possess and can even learn magic spells. While some Deep Ones mature in age and wisdom, others gain size and strength to become deadly, brutish thugs. These Deep Ones become the protectors and soldiers of the race.

Deep One cities usually exist in the deepest, most unexplored parts of our oceans. The smaller settlements that usually interact with humans have shown themselves to be either ancient Deep One outposts or the remnants of a once great city suddenly cut off from their home dimension. Fortunately for humanity, Deep One encounters and cities are rare, as Deep One communities typically only flourish when in their own dimension, or when it is close enough for its energies to leak into our own.

Most Deep One undersea cities partially or wholly exist in other dimensions. Their cities tend to be located near soft spaces that are junction points between worlds. When dimensional boundaries are strong, Deep Ones can move into our world with great difficulty, so few are encountered if at all. As the boundaries weaken, movement between dimensions becomes easier. When the dimensions are near enough, Deep One Priests can craft vast, continuous portals that allow free movement between worlds.

An interesting consequence of the weakened dimensional walls is that sometimes creatures  traveling oceans of other dimensions accidentally move between dimensions. This certainly could be the cause  and explanation for some odd marine life that has sometimes appeared on our world as well as unexplained disappearances of ships and submarines.

In Quantum Black, the boundaries between our dimension and those of the Deep Ones are weakening, and the Deep Ones are increasingly returning to old haunts in our world and renewing ties with old communities. When their dimension was far away, few humans with traces of Deep One blood would turn into one. Now, with the energies of their dimension increasingly leaking in, human communities with strong Deep One ancestry are finding inhabitants turning into Deep Ones an increasingly common occurrence.

Deep Ones in Quantum Black can be found advancing what they believe to be the plans of their gods, often Cthulhu and Dagon. However, they are a intelligent, ancient civilization, who  can also enact their own complex schemes.

Deep Ones are highly diverse with many differences in physical attributes and skills. Below is a typical Deep One.

 

 

July 28, 2015: Let's Answer a Common Question: Why Fight Horror as Part of a Corporation?

One question we are frequently asked is “Why in the default setting of Quantum Black do the characters work for huge corporation? Why aren’t they on their own or part of a military team?”

These are great questions!

First, don’t get hung up on the default. Once you buy the book, you get to play the game you want to play. If you want to run a different sort of game, you can.

However, we think the corporate team concept offers some advantages.  There are already horror RPGs where the characters are part of a government/military team, members of a mysterious organization, or independent heroes. While many of these games are great, we wanted to explore a different theme instead of simply going over old ground.

As members of a corporate team you get many of the toys you would get from working for the government, much of the intrigue you get from working for a secret organization, and all of the challenges of the independent hunters with a need to hide from law enforcement and the press. And you get some new twists as well!

But why a corporation? Well, today there are many large corporations that argue that they are better suited to address major societal needs than governments—they believe are better resourced, more innovative, and more flexible. These powerful corporations claim to be benevolent—or at least not to be evil. But they also are becoming integrated into the basic fabric of society, giving them more power…power greater than some governments. We thought a corporation “out to make the world a better place” would certainly devote resources into researching and thwarting supernatural threats to humanity once it realized such threats existed.

Let’s face it, in our world Google is concerned about providing people with access to old books, addressing climate change, and eliminating auto accidents, among other things. If there were Shoggoth eating people, Google would likely be concerned about that as well. So we wondered, how would a powerful corproation respond to being in a world menaced by hidden supernautral threats?

Now, some players have said “I find the idea of working for a huge corporation disturbing.” Well, it’s a horror game, and it should be disturbing. What Quantum Black is up to, and whether the characters can trust it, can be an important component of your game.

Do you have a question about Quantum Black you want answered? If so, email: scott@quantumblackgames.com.

July 19, 2015: Meet Xander Baines

Today we'll give a preview of another archetypical character: Xander Baines. Xander often serves as an occult expert for a Quantum Black team. Xander has knowledge of supernatural menaces, has some understanding of magic, and can often decipher old texts the team finds. Unfortunately, his knowledge of the supernatural also has made him Superstitious.

Xander Baines was a graduate student in history interested in the specialty area of the history of the occult. He and his friends didn’t believe in the occult. They believed occult practices and beliefs represented society’s method for addressing larger societal issues and fears. While doing research, he found some fascinating old books in used book stores. To gain a better understanding of magic (and impress some undergraduate females), he and some friends decided to try casting a spell from one of the books. They tried a summoning spell. Since they didn’t really believe in magic, they didn’t bother with protection or binding spells.

Unfortunately, the summoning spell worked. Something...came. It was hungry.

Xander barely escaped with his life. Everyone else was not so lucky. He ended up arrested for the murder of his friends. Quantum Black managed to clear his name and they put him to work as an investigator. Xander has a lot of historical knowledge of the supernatural and magic; but he does not always know how accurate it is.

Xander Baines

Playing Xander

Xander is terrified of what the true nature of the universe might be--what other magics might be real? True magical knowledge and the true nature of reality needs to be concealed from those not ready for it. Xander is afraid of monsters, the unknown, and magic. The only thing that he fears more is what might happen if Quantum Black does nothing.

Xander appears to be a bit of nerd. Poorly dressed and nervous, he still manages to find a way to carry on in investigations. Baines stills thinks of himself as a historian (he was halfway done with his Ph.D.) and has yet to come to grips with the fact that he is an occultist working for a secret arm of a megacorporation.  Xander is a nice guy who tries to do what is right. He tries to help his new friends by offering up bits of esoteric knowledge.

Character Stats

Archetype: Occultist

Motivation: Deception

Team Roles: Supernatural Specialist, Academic Knowledge/Research Expert

Style: 2

 

Primary Attributes

Body: 2

Charisma: 3

Dexterity: 2

Intelligence: 4

Strength: 2

Willpower: 3

 

Secondary Attributes

Size: 0

Initiative: 6

Move: 4

Defense: 6

Perception: 7

Stun: 2

Health: 5

Sanity: 6

Skills

Base

Levels

Rating

(Average)

Academics (History)

4

4

8

(4)

Firearms

2

2

4

(2)

Investigation

4

1

5

(2)+

Linguistics

4

2

6

(3)

Supernatural Lore (Cosmic)

4

2

6

(3)

Melee

2

2

4

(2)

Ritual Magic

4

5

9

(4)+

Survival

4

1

5

(2)+

Talents and Resources

Calculated Defense: You may use Intelligence for Defense instead of Dexterity

Rank: 1 (Quantum Black)

Grimoire: 1 (This is the book The Dark Tapestry, by Sir William Smythe)

Grants +2 on checks concerning Byakhee

Contains 5 spells

  1. Showing Dark Powers (Detect Magic), Complexity Average

  2. Finding the Lost (Divination), Can only be used to reveal where something is located, requires sympathetic connection, Complexity Hard

  3. Sign of the Stars (Seal Opening), Complexity Average

  4. Cleansing Spirits (Remove Enchantment), Complexity Hard

  5. Cast away the star spawn (Repel Entity), works only on Byakhee, Complexity Average

Flaw

Superstitious: You gain style whenever your unusual beliefs cause trouble for you or your team

 

Weapon

Rating

Size

Attack

(Average)

Punch

0N

0

0N

(0) N

Glock 22

3L

0

7L

(3)+ L


July 10, 2015: Meet Nate Pulaski

Welcome! We'll be posting information about our game here. Today, We'll give a glimpse of one of our archetypical characters, Nate Pulaski!

Nate

Nate represents how many Quantum Black characters come from various walks of life. Quantum Black often recruits people not just for their skills, but because they have encountered the supernatural and survived. Quantum Black does not need its team members to be saints: they simply need to be willing to do what it takes to stop supernatural horrors from destroying mankind.

Below is a peek into the book:

Nate Pulaski was a Narcotics Detective in the Baltimore police department. He started out a good beat cop and worked his way up to Detective. But after a few years of making arrests but never really impacting the drug trade, he grew cynical, then began a descent into corruption. There was never a moment where Nate decided to become a bad cop. It was a slow, incremental process.

He ended up allied with on drug gang, providing them cover while arresting their enemies, and making money while doing so. Whether covering up crimes, hindering investigations, or planting evidence, Nate calmly handled everything. Convincing himself that he was not really doing anything bad, that he was merely making sure the more reasonable drug dealers stayed in control, and simply earning the money he deserved as an underpaid cop. After all, if he arrested this set of drug dealers, they would end up replaced soon, anyway.

Then one day, an investigation led to a group of cultists, and….and something they had summoned from another world. Nate barely escaped with his life, but his partner and two uniforms did not, and Nate ended up being found covered in blood, his clothing in tatters, shaking, gibbering about the horror he had fled. Once he calmed down, he tried to explain what had happened, but no one would listen. A month later, he managed to get himself released from the mental institution they had placed in him in, but he was never getting his shield back--he was off the force.

Quantum Black contacted Nate--they appreciated that he had survived an encounter with the supernatural. They told him that they could use someone with a detective’s skills, someone who could handle the unusual, and someone who could bury evidence and act as a cleaner to cover up the supernatural. Now Nate works for Quantum Black. The pay is good--but not as good as he used to make working with criminals. He has yet to encounter any supernatural horrors again, but he acts as an investigator as part of a team and has been called in to clean up after other teams have apparently bagged a monster of some sort.

Nate feels lucky to have survived his initial brush with horror, and he wonders whether maybe he has been given a chance to atone for his past wrongs. But Nate was bad for so long, he’s not really sure how to be good anymore.

Playing Nate

Nate is a burned out, jaded, cynical, jerk. He spent years surviving the roughest streets in Baltimore, and he is a experienced survivor. Officially he is an investigator for the team, but he also sometimes doubles as security. He also acts as a cleaner when needed, modifying crime scenes to handle any investigations the authorities make afterwards. Thus, he is responsible for covering the team’s tracks. Nate vacillates between trying to be a good guy and being a jerk. He can be charming and helpful when needed, but he can also can treat his team members as disposable.

Quote: I’ll take care of it. You can trust me.

Character Stats

Archetype: Detective

Motivation: Survival

Team Roles: Investigator, Ranged Combatant

Style: 1

 

Primary Attributes

Body: 2

Charisma: 2

Dexterity: 3

Intelligence: 4

Strength: 2

Willpower: 3

 

Secondary Attributes

Size: 0

Initiative: 7

Move: 5

Defense: 5

Perception: 7

Stun: 2

Health: 5

Sanity: 5


Skill

Base

Levels

Rating

(Average)

Administration

4

1

5

(2)+

Brawl

2

2

4

(2)

Con

2

2

4

(2)

Diplomacy

2

2

4

(2)

Drive

3

1

4

(2)

Empathy

4

2

6

(3)

Firearms

3

3

6

(3)

Pistols

3
4

7

(3)+

Investigation

4

3

7

(3)+

Larceny

4

2

4

(2)

Streetwise

2

2

4

(2)

 

Talents and Resources

Intelligent: +1 to Intelligence rating

Contacts: 1 (FBI Agent Stan Cain, 4 ranks in national law enforcement)

Rank: 1 (Quantum Black)

 

Flaws

Callous--Gain style when you are selfish or refuse to help someone in dire need.


Weapon

Rating

Size

Attack

(Average)

Punch

0N

0

4N

(2) N

Beretta Model 92

3L

0

10L

(5) L

Taser M26

2N

0

8N

(4) N

 

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