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I'm a tad annoyed because I'm starting a furry game myself, but I have plenty of options from the series already to get started. And I can fudge the rest.
My apologies for the delay.
If it's any consolation, even if I were following my original release schedule, this series wouldn't be finished for a year or more after the time stamp on this post. My 5e projects have only set this series behind by four or five titles (out of a planned forty-something titles).
It's been called to my attention that I have been out of touch with my customer base for a few months, so here's an update:
Since the 5th Edition SRD and the Dungeon Master's Guild dropped a few months ago, I've been taking a detour from the Animal Races product line to familiarize myself with the options those new licenses make available to small publishers. Over the next few months, I'll be doing some playtesting and market research related to that other game system.
Once that's finished, I plan on returning to the Pathfinder-compatible Animal Races product line and releasing new titles. I may also begin releasing 5th Edition conversions of old Animal Races titles, but that's a discussion for a thread in another sub-forum.
Nutcase Entertainment wrote:
An update on my latest archetype-related work:
Instead of posting a limited number of specific archetypes, I am working on a system one can use to create one's own archetypes for any class. I plan on including this system in the final version of the Custom Class Builder.
My initial plan was to finish the full version of that product by the summer of 2016, but downloads have been relatively sluggish. As a result, several of my other projects have taken on a higher priority than the Custom Class Builder. I do plan on eventually finishing it, though, and I plan on including my rules for archetype creation therein.
I'm currently converting a bunch of OGL monsters into 5e. As of this post, I've finished 97 stat blocks for new-to-5e monsters, and I plan on converting about two-dozen more. My goal is to post all of these 100+ stat blocks online for people to view for free, along with a bunch of converted classes, items, and spells. If this thread is still going when I've got all that ready to go, I'll drop by and provide a link.
If you aren't making use of non-OGC world content from WotC, then the Dungeon Master Guild is almost certainly a bad deal for you, but fortunately the OGL is still there.
If you're trying to join WotC's stable of 5e freelancers, the DM Guild is arguably a better deal than entering RPG Superstar. The "voters" in the DM Guild vote for up-and-coming freelancers with actual dollars, so you might make a few bucks even if you don't crack the Top 32 DM Guild bestsellers.
The third party reference site isn't going to be making revisions to core rules, it'll just be hosting additional 3rd party content alongside the official SRD rules. Exactly like they do with Pathfinder.
Like nature, OGL designers abhor a vacuum. I've already stumbled upon an online discussion where designers were debating the best way to replace the rules omitted from the SRD with similar but differently-worded 3pp content, to be hosted on the same website as the official SRD.
Incentivizing designers to create a reworded PHB knock-off that will be more widely available in an electronic format than the actual PHB can't be good for D&D as a brand. You want to create a situation where third parties generate familiarity with the core rules of your game, not one where third parties create potential confusion by blending a fraction of your official rules with reworded rules written to fill an intentional content gap.
In these quotes taken from a Reddit discussion, the D&D folks at WotC have confirmed that they have no plans to add more content to the SRD aside from a few mistakenly omitted items. So, thanks to the content gap in the SRD, the biggest third-party "5e" reference site will inevitably become a D&D clone competing with (instead of complementing) D&D. *sigh*
On the plus side, the D&D staff say the folks running DriveThruRPG are working on a solution to the problem with artwork in the DM Guild, and expect that the concerns folks here and elsewhere have raised should be addressed in the near future.
Vic Wertz wrote:
Yeah, that's what I was getting at regarding the new SRD.
If the SRD had been either more permissive or less permissive, it would have been much more effective.
A more permissive SRD would allow third-party reference sites to explicitly include core D&D character options, generating familiarity with WotC-published content and promoting WotC's vision for the game.
A less permissive SRD would have allowed third-party publishers to expand upon the D&D 5e rules without also being able to create comprehensive reference sites that dilute the authority of the PHB.
Instead, WotC chose a middle route that has the disadvantages of both. The SRD is just restrictive enough that you can't create an authentic reference site, but just permissive enough that you can create a designer-impostor reference site. That's probably the least beneficial result WotC could get from releasing a System Reference Document.
Scott Betts wrote:
I'm speaking from the perspective of an independent publisher offering advice to would-be independent publishers. Never base your business ("build your house") on a single, revocable license to someone else's IP ("land you don't own").
That's not a value statement about WotC's DMG Program (which is much better than, say, Paizo's Adventure Card Creator). That's a suggestion that aspiring publishers read and understand the full ramifications of any license they want to use, and then develop their business model accordingly.
Steve Geddes wrote:
I kind of think of the SRD as a way for publishers to produce compatible content without fear of legal action, not as a player resource.
The SRD 5.0 is obviously a publisher resource, not a player resource. On behalf of third party publishers everywhere, I thank WotC for publishing it.
On the other hand, I think the current version of the SRD is a poorly-executed business strategy. Within 12 hours of the SRD's release, a third-party publisher created a 5e SRD website intended for use as a player (not publisher) resource. Third parties are already discussing the best way to populate the 5e SRD site with clones of the content excluded from the official SRD, and those clones will be reiterated by numerous 3pp products drawing upon the 5e SRD site. Based on the history of third-party publishing, none of this should surprise anyone.
Essentially, WotC just outsourced the online gateway to the 5e rules. Except, instead of allowing the online gatekeeper to promote the actual 5e rules, it has incentivized the gatekeeper to create a competing edition of the 5e rules (one which renames and rewords most of the core character options). WotC now suffers all of the drawbacks of the OGL (3pp products can ride WotC's coattails and/or create competing game systems) with none of benefits of the OGL (3pp products can do nothing to introduce new players to the character options appearing in the PHB, and thus generate limited interest in official 5e products).
Vic Wertz wrote:
You retain ownership of the content you create, but you give them "the exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to develop, license, reproduce, print, publish, distribute, translate, display, publicly perform and transmit your Work, in whole and in part, in each country in the world, in all languages and formats, and by all means now known or later developed, and the right to prepare derivative works of your Work."
You retain ownership of your house, you just can't live in your house, rent it out, modify it, sell it, or tear it down. Also, we can move into, rent out, modify, sell, or tear down your house whenever we want.
(Which is why you should never build a house on land you don't own.)
Steve Geddes wrote:
Leaving stuff out isn't as awkward as declaring stuff closed content.
I don't know. Leaving out a bunch of feats is rather awkward.
This leads to a situation where the only complete, "try it before you buy it" SRD is going to be a third-party website with a bunch of designer-impostor feats (and clones of other official D&D character options like archetypes and backgrounds). Wouldn't it be better for D&D if the game's most comprehensive online reference tool was a site that listed the official wording of the game's most common character options instead of listing a bunch of third-party workarounds?
Lord Mhoram wrote:
Themes and Talents.
Unfortunately, I don't have a good solution to the "what themes and talents to include in the preview" problem. There are hundreds of pages of themes and talents. No matter which sample I add to the preview, there are going to be readers who are still waiting for That One Theme that isn't in the preview.
Valkyn Highwind wrote:
Also, when choosing saving throws in Step 3 do you have choose a second good save if you are allowed more than one?
The original wording of the saving throw section said, "you may choose a second saving throw" (as in, you don't have to if you don't want to) but it seems to have been changed in editing. The original wording was more permissive, so I'll probably switch back to that for the final product.
Lord Mhoram wrote:
Is the class creation process itself holding you back, or do your ideas simply rely upon themes and talents that were not published in the preview?
Just a heads up: I've been under the weather the past few weeks, so I'm running a bit behind on this product line. Unfortunately, as a publisher with no employees, I don't have any coworkers to pick up slack while I'm busy navigating America's incompetent health care system. (Is it too late to move to Canada? Canada is looking mighty appealing right now.)
While I'm getting caught up on Animal Races, feel free to check out the latest product from Eric Morton Presents, the Custom Class Builder Preview. I'm currently soliciting feedback on that product in this playtest thread.
Thanks for your patience. I hope to have new Animal Races products for you soon.
... priests of different focus, more fitting for the deity they worship.
As a matter of fact, a class that does exactly this is mentioned as one of the examples in Step 6 of the class creation process. (It works best with the full version of the Custom Class Builder, which includes dozens of additional themes you can assign to various deities.)
Lord Mhoram wrote:
When I mentioned replicating classes I was mostly thinking "This class or more" :)
Well, you can definitely do that. :)
In fact, building a better fighter is explicitly mentioned in Chapter 1. (You could easily build a "fighter" class with d12 as its Hit Die, two good saves, and 4 + Int modifier skill ranks per level if your GM thinks the existing fighter needs a boost.)
I'll be curious to see what other "improved" classes you come up with.
Lord Mhoram wrote:
And this may be when hybrid stuff comes out, or a talent I missed, but how would you make something like the monk that has 3 good saves.
The various monk talents aren't included in the preview. One of those talents will allow you to turn a class with three fair saves into a class with three good saves, instead. (The hybrid class type, which is unrelated to monks, is what you would use to create a mystic theurge base class.)
Lord Mhoram wrote:
That is actually one of the things that I look at in retrofit construction system like this - can you use it to duplicate all the official classes ...
I wouldn't describe the Custom Class Builder as a retrofit construction system. In fact, there are several existing classes I consider so poorly designed (for different reasons), I don't particularly want the Custom Class Builder to create them. You can't currently build a d8 Hit Die full caster, for example, nor can you build a class with only 2 + Int modifier skill ranks per level. Unless there is a huge outcry for those options during the playtest, I don't plan on including them.
That being said, the full version of the Custom Class Builder includes an archetype creation process where you use an existing class as your starting point, then modify it by adding and subtracting class features. So if you have your heart set on creating a d8 Hit Die full caster with 2 + Int modifier skill ranks per level that looks very much like a cleric or druid, you can just start with a cleric or druid and build from there.
... first thing I'm interested for now (and don't have time to check), is it possible to build a standard Inquisitor using this system as it is now?
The rules for judgments aren't included in the preview. In the full rules, you can't exactly recreate the inquisitor (though you can come very close). You can, however, start with the standard inquisitor and modify it using the archetype creation process mentioned above.
The Custom Class Builder Preview is now available for download here.
As mentioned above, this is a pay-what-you-want product. Grab it for free, or support my efforts to complete the full version of the Custom Class Builder by chipping in if you have a few bucks to spare. Either way, thanks for reading. Feel free to leave your comments about the preview here in this thread.
Welcome to the playtest thread for the Custom Class Builder Preview. While the rules in this PDF have been playtested as much as possible by the designer, they allow more choices than any one person or group could playtest in a lifetime of gaming. Accordingly, any feedback from readers is greatly appreciated, and will be taken into account when finalizing the full version of the Custom Class Builder, which is scheduled for release in late 2016.
Note: This thread is being posted a few days before the Custom Class Builder Preview is released so text in that preview can be hyperlinked back to this thread. I will post a link to the preview once it is available for download. The preview will be released a few days after this post as a 64-page, pay-what-you-want PDF product.
I've decided to add a sample class to the Custom Class Builder Preview so readers can walk through an example of the class creation process. I've also found a few more pieces of artwork I want to include if I can find room without going over 64 pages.
That means I need to spend a few hours creating tables, shuffling artwork around, and making some page layout adjustments, but the finish line for the preview PDF is definitely in sight.
Instead of releasing a PDF in November, I'm going to add some Animal Races material to d20pfsrd.com so I have some free, sample crunch I can point to if anyone wants to see it.
For December, I'm working on Animal Races: Clan of the Seabird so folks will have penguins in time for Christmas: cute penguins; umbrella-toting crime boss penguins; giant, Lovecraftian, albino penguins. Also, albatrosses and ghost ships.
My first few releases in 2016 will be:
Anything about spider-goats! If it has anything about spider-goats, I will buy it unseen!
Clan of the Goat covers 100% pure goats. You'll have to wait until later in the Animal Races series for spider-goats, capricorns, and other chaemeras. (You'll still want to pick up Clan of the Goat at some point; goat-related chaemeras can take many of the character options appearing therein.)
Animal Races: Clan of the Goat introduces a new race of goat-like humanoids torn between good and evil. While selfless scapegoats and god-fearing Sheep Clan parishioners strive to better the world, black sheep and Goat Clan witches turn their backs on the gods. Play cloven-hoofed heroes, antiheroes, and everything in between, from gruff troll slayers to fainting Goat oracles.
Also included: new feat and trait options, new changeling and tiefling variants, bestiary statistics for the child-snatching krampus, and more.
What's the ETA?
In theory, I could upload the preview PDF as early as Monday. In practice, I want to make several nit-picky wording and page layout tweaks so everything is a bit cleaner than it really needs to be for a playtest document. Given that, I'm going to say it'll be closer to two or three weeks from the time of this post.
Metal Sonic wrote:
Question: How much you playtested it?
I've playtested it enough to find and eliminate several hundred class feature interactions that had the potential to break things, but not enough to say for sure that I won't be making occasional tweaks based on customer feedback between now and the eventual hardcover release.
As noted earlier in this thread, the preview document is also a playtest document. With so many thousands of character options, the Custom Class Builder will benefit if many diverse groups read it, play with it, and comment on it before it gets finalized as a hardcover. When I release the preview document, I will also start a thread where customers can leave feedback.
The preview document will be updated periodically as readers identify abilities that cause problems or wording that can be improved. For example, the initial class creation rules in the playtest document are fairly permissive. If readers find that this leaves the door to potential abuse open too wide, some of the options allowed by the preview document will be converted into optional rules that are not a default part of the class creation process.
I am currently doing graphic design and page layout work on the Custom Class Builder preview PDF (a.k.a., the alpha playtest document I mentioned in previous posts). I'm also looking through some stock art to find some illustrations I can use to add a bit of color.
Despite my best efforts to condense the awesomeness that is the Custom Class Builder into as few words as possible, the preview PDF is going to be 64 pages long (possibly a bit longer, depending upon the final graphics and artwork).
The Custom Class Builder preview PDF includes:
And that's just a small fraction of the full Custom Class Builder that should be ready next year. In fact, the full product has so much more to offer than the 64-page preview, I'm going to make the 64-page preview PDF available for free or pay-what-you-want as soon as I've finished all the necessary graphics and layout work.
This map thematically resembles something that's been done before. The actual layout is original.
Scott Fernandez wrote:
The Rock of Bral is like a thousand times the size of this place...
That's why I think the Rock of Bral was a better implementation of this concept. Any map that meets the requirements of this challenge is too small to do a flying landmass justice (as evidenced by all of the rooms missing from the house on this map). To me, this map feels like a case of too much portrait, too little canvas.
As a voter, I want to see a designer who understands the scope of a 120-foot-by-150-foot area, both in real life and on a battlemat. Too many times, I've gone to draw an epic map from a module on a battlemat only to discover that the map is actually small and cramped because its designer overestimated how much area was actually being portrayed.
After this round is over and contestants can talk about their maps without getting in trouble, I'll be curious to hear how many of them actually drew their maps on battlemats and moved minis around on them to get a feel for the size of their locations.
I suspect I'm going to be the only critical voice in this thread, so I'm going to skip all the praise I could offer and move right to the criticism.
This concept was really awesome when it was published twenty years ago as the Rock of Bral poster map in the Spelljammer boxed set. Flying boulder with buildings on it? Rock of Bral. Underside with opposite gravity? Rock of Bral. Big lake on one side? Rock of Bral. It's entirely possible the creator of this map never saw the Rock of Bral poster map, but the Meandering Oasis isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before and done better.
I've played Spelljammer and Planescape. I've played modules set on cloud islands and in flying castles. You can't impress me with a map just by saying, "Look, it's flying terrain!" I've been there and I've done that. If you want to impress me with flying terrain, it needs to be really interesting flying terrain.
So, ignoring the flying aspect of this map, what do we have? We have a standard lake, a standard pond, a couple of boulders, and the ruins of a mansion that's missing lots of stuff (dining room but no kitchen, guest bedroom but no parlor for entertaining, no bathroom or lavatory, etc.). If this were mapped on level ground as a meteor-struck, lakeside mansion, it would be okay, I guess. If we pretend the crash that wrecked the mansion wiped out all of the rooms that should be there but aren't, this map would probably make for a decent, reusable Flip Mat. But taking that okay location and turning it into an okay flying location does nothing to increase my excitement. It's still just an okay map, and now it's too niche to be reused after running the handful of specific encounters designed to take place there.
I fully suspect this map will advance, probably with a large percentage of the vote, but I still think it is a flawed map using its high concept as a smoke-screen for its shortcomings. And, as I noted above, it's high concept has already been done as a poster map in the Spelljammer boxed set, so it's nothing new to me.
Most of the rules text for this series is already written, and I have about 80% of the artwork I need lined up. Getting a product in this series ready for release involves selecting appropriate artwork, writing the exact amount of flavor text needed to fill any space not devoted to graphics, and some editing passes.
So... what's next? After Goats, I mean...
I'll get back to you once I know what artwork I have available for November and beyond.
Will we ever see a crane, perhaps?
Cranes will appear in Animal Races: Clan of the Shorebird along with ibises and related birds.
Eric Hinkle wrote:
I'm eager to see what you do with the Elephant Clan.
Animal Races: Clan of the Elephant is one of my favorite upcoming products. I have several other titles I want to release before that one, though.
While looking over this year's Top 100, I noticed something interesting:
Since public voting began, I've predicted the Top 100 with a roughly 75% chance of success, and at least 75% of my items have made the Top 100. (I don't know if I made the Top 100 last season, since that information was never revealed.)
Also, over the past eight seasons, I've predicted the Top 32 (when able to view all items submitted) with a 25% chance of success, and 25% of my own items have made the Top 32.
Have any other Top 100 or Top 32 finalists noticed similar correlations?
It seems I correctly predicted 70% of this year's Top 100.
Congrats to my fellow Top 100, and to everyone else who survived all the culls. There were quite a few strong contenders this year.
Vic Wertz wrote:
But that's ameliorated by the fact that Voter A (or Voter B) isn't likely to be comparing those exact two items against each other repeatedly—instead, when he does see repeats, he's comparing each of them against different opponents. In the system we're using, that's building a more complete chain of his preferences, and that's actually valuable data.
But does your method check individual voters' chains of preference? My understanding was that there was a single chain of preference based upon aggregate data collected for each individual item pair (i.e., 75% percent of voters chose Item 1 over Item 2 and 65% of voters chose Item 2 over Item 3, so Item 1 beats Item 2 beats Item 3 without needing to check which specific voters up-voted each item).
Voters' individual chains of preference would only matter if your system calculated multiple chains of preference (one per voter), averaged the placement each item got within those multiple chains of preference, and then ranked items from highest average placement to lowest average placement.
In a voting method where there is a single chain of preference based upon aggregate data for each individual item pair, repeat viewings by a single voter provide no more information than an equal number of viewings by multiple different voters.
Perhaps a better way to reduce repeat viewings would be to have a sequential (non-random) central list of every possible item pairing. As each voter enters the voting booth for the first time, they are assigned a random position on that list and see the corresponding item pair. The algorithm that assigns this position to the voter would specifically target unseen item pairs. Each time someone casts a vote, their position on the list increases by a number of spaces equal to first prime number greater than the number of items in the running. That would greatly reduce the number of repeat items seen (since a voter almost always skips from the block with Item X on the left to the block with Item X+1 on the left) while also guaranteeing that as many different item pairings as possible are seen.
Example: If you have 688 items again, you could generate a sequential list that has all 687 pairs with Item #1 on the left followed by all 687 pairs with Item #2 on the left, etc. The first time each voter arrives in the voting booth, they start at a random position corresponding to an unseen item pair. Each time they cast a vote, they move 691 spaces down the list. That should give you the maximum number of item pairs seen while still having relatively few repeat views per voter.
Waiting for the first person to want to play a Bull Fighter.
I almost included a matador archetype in this PDF, but then I realized a matador is just a normal swashbuckler with the Dueling Cape feat. That build does literally everything a matador does, no archetype required.
In other news, Animal Races: Clan of the Cat recently became the first Eric Morton Presents product to sell 100 copies! Several other titles should hit that mark soon, and the rest are still going strong.
So a big "thank you" is in order to all my customers. I appreciate all your support for my humble product line, and I will do my best to keep cranking out interesting content for you to add to your gaming libraries.
This PDF introduces a new, playable race of minotaurs. Customize your minotaur with racial traits inspired by a wide range of bovines, from bison and buffalos to oxen and yaks. Grow large and stout as you gain in power. Get drunk on aurochs beer. Fight for glory in the bullring.
From sacred cows to raging bulls, this PDF has all you need to play a new breed of minotaur.
I think the voters did fine without judge intervention. I would just like to see the algorithm tweaked to spread the items around better. That way, I'd feel more confident that most voters' thoughts on an item have been heard before I get an opportunity to down-vote that item nineteen times.
Instead of generating a random item pair each time someone casts a vote, perhaps the system could assign a (behind-the-scenes) string of pre-generated item pairs to each account before the start of voting. That would let Paizo better regulate the distribution of items to voters. No one would get twenty times as many votes on a given item than anyone else; everyone would see unique items more frequently without having to wade through constant repeats; and Paizo could encourage people to cast even more votes by offering incentives like, "Every Marathon voter is guaranteed to see each item at least once."
That's the sort of change I'd like to see. I think it would make voting both more reliable and more enjoyable for voters.
Vic Wertz wrote:
I'm not worried about the number of votes per item or the number of voters per item, since those are first-order effects. Variations from those numbers will become vanishingly small as the number of votes greatly exceeds the number of items (a few hundred).
I'm more concerned about the numbers of views of each item per voter, which are second-order effects. Variations from the averages for those numbers won't become vanishingly small until the number of votes greatly exceeds the number of item-voter combinations (several million).
If all voters had the same preferences, that wouldn't be an issue, since every item is equally likely to get a large number of views from at least one voter. However, it matters which voter sees which item a large number of times, and that pairing is chosen entirely at random.
I don't think there is any way for Marathon voters, Champion voters, or voting blocks to game the system, since they are all checks and balances against one another. And I don't think they can single-handedly elevate items they like into the Top 32.
I do, however, get the feeling that the fates of items on the threshhold of a cutoff are determined more by random chance than by the voters, because a random subset of the voting public (as opposed to the voting public as a whole) will have cast the deciding votes on those items.
That effect wouldn't be able to catapult an item at risk of getting eliminated in the first cull into the Top 32 or anything like that, but I think it could mean the difference between Alternate and Top 32, or the difference between eliminated in the fourth cull and eliminated in the fifth cull.
I agree with 90% of the culls and I didn't see too many surprises in the Top 32, so I think the process did a fairly good job of identifying high-quality items. In fact, this is the first season where I haven't seen a single Top 32 pick that made me ask, "How did that get in here?"
That being said, based on my Marathon voting, I saw some areas where the voting system might have broken down a bit, especially after the final cull. Based on purely anecdotal evidence, the biggest problem I saw was the tendency of certain items to "follow" me as I voted. In other words, my nearly 2000 votes were not evenly distributed across the available selection of items.
Looking at only the final 223 items, I voted on each item an average of ten times. (I saw my own item seven times and one of the items I workshopped thirteen times, for example.) However, there were eleven items I saw fewer than five times each and thirteen items I saw more than fifteen times each. That's 10% of the final 223 that received a disproportionate number of my votes.
Let's look at the two most extreme cases. There was one item in the final 223 that I never saw. There was another item in the final 223 that I saw twenty times (and down-voted nineteen times, though I could see how other voters with different preferences might have liked it). That happenstance was pure chance. There was an equal probability that my viewing numbers for those two items would have been reversed.
For the sake of argument, let's say the item I never saw was one I would have really liked and up-voted almost every time I saw it. Let's also say that both of the items in question were middle-of-the-road items for voters other than myself. If my viewing numbers had been reversed, that would have meant 10 fewer down-votes and 10 more up-votes for the item I never saw (but would have liked) and 10 fewer down-votes and 10 more up-votes for the item I saw twenty times (but didn't like).
Would those additional up-votes have affected the chances of those two items? The answer to that question depends up lots of complicated things, but I don't think it's unreasonable to speculate that an extra 10 up-votes might have bumped either of two items already in the top 223 up a few spots. If one of those items finished in 37th place, it might have missed out on the Top 32 simply because its number of views by yours truly was a statistical outlier.
TL;TR: Item views need to be better distributed across all voters. When Marathon and Champion voters see a small number of items twenty or more times, their influence on those randomly-chosen items is disproportionately large.
I've been a bit slow about uploading Animal Races: Clan of the Ox, but it's done and should be available in stores in a day or two. I'll be sure to announce it when it goes live.
Next up after that, Animal Races: Clan of the Goat.
That does it. You're both joining my pit crew next year.
Liz Courts wrote:
On what day? :P
Interior. Suburban house. The TWO GUYS sit on a couch, eating junk food.
(Thunder claps. The lights in the house flicker briefly.)
GUY #1: "Wow. Big storm."
GUY #2: "Yeah, I'd love to see the New Kid's face right now."
GUY #1 (lauhging): "Yeah, that would be totally hillarious."
(Enter GIRL #1.)
GIRL #1: "What would be totally hillarious?"
GUY #1: "Oh, nothing."
GIRL #1: "No, really. Tell me."
GUY #2: "We told the New Kid we'd meet him out in the woods by the old Guildhall at midnight tonight, so he's probably out there in the rain and the wind right now."
GIRL #1: "What? Why would you send him out there and leave him hanging all night?"
GUY #2: "Because it's funny."
GIRL #1: "You are such an ass." (Grabs her coat off a nearby coat rack.)
GUY #1: "What? Where are you going?"
GIRL #1: "I'm going out to the old Guildhall to make sure the New Kid isn't lost or hurt or being attacked by wolves or something."
GUY #1: "There aren't any wolves around here."
(Girl #1 puts on her coat.)
GUY #1: "You're not serious. You're not really going out there to look for some stupid New Kid?"
GIRL #1: "I am. And if you ever want to have sex with me again, you're coming with me."
GUY #1: "What? No. It's pouring rain out there."
GIRL #1: "Well, you should have thought about that before sending the New Guy out there. Now get your keys. You're driving me out there."
GUY #1: "Dammit." (Stands up. Collects his car keys. Looks at GUY #2.) "Well, come on."
GUY #2: "What?"
GUY #1: "We're going out to the old Guildhall to find the New Kid."
GUY #2: "Why am I coming?"
GUY #1: "Because this prank was your idea."
GUY #2: "Okay, fine, but I'm inviting my girlfriend. And we're stopping at my house so I can steal some of my Dad's beer. If I'm going to drive out to a big, empty house in the middle of the night, I'm going to have some fun while I'm there."
GUY #1: "Bro, I like the way you think."
GIRL #1 (rolling her eyes): "Guys."
GUY #1: "Whatever. Let's do this."
GUY #2: "To the Guildhall!"
(Thunder claps. The lights in the house flicker ominously.)
Exterior. Night. The NEW KID stands in the middle of the woods.
(The New Kid glances at a smartphone, checking the time. In addition to telling the time, the phone indicates that no service is available at its current location.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Okay, guys, I'm here! Guys, where are you?"
(An ominous wind stirs the branches in the wood.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Seriously, guys. Let's just do this initiation thing so I can get back inside."
(Lightning flashes. Thunder claps. Rain starts to fall.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Come on, guys, where are you?"
(Branches rustle. A shape that might be a wolf dart between two large shrubs.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Guys, this isn't funny."
(More shapes move in the underbrush.)
NEW KID (shouting): "I'm going back to the car."
(The New Kid turns, but a wolf is blocking the path. Lightning flashes. Thunder claps. The wolf growls.)
NEW KID (shouting): "Guys!"
(The New Kid turns and runs. The wolf pursues. Other wolves join in. The New Kid stumbles through the dark and rainy woods, occasionally tripping on falled braches and stumbling. The wolves move effortlessly through the underbrush, but are alwasy just a few feet shy of their target.
(The New Kid stumbles out of the woods and into a clearing. Lightning flashes, revealing a large but worn-down house atop a nearby hill. The New Kid glances back in the direction of the wolves, then sprints for the old house. The wolves give chase, grey blurs darting across the clearing in pursuit of the New Kid.
(The New Kid reaches the porch of the old house and bangs frantically on the front door. No one answers. The New Kid glances back towards the wolves. They have all stopped at the threshhold of the old house's lawn, where they stand in a line, growling but unwilling to advance.
(The New Kid knocks on the door of the house, a bit less frantically this time.)
NEW KID: "Hello, is anyone there?"
(The New Kid turns to look at the wolves. Behind the New Kid, the house's front door swings open, seemingly of its own accord. The creaking of the opening door attracts the New Kid's attention.)
(Lighting flashes. Thunder claps. The wolves howl. With one last glance at the animals standing across the lawn, watching hungrily, the New Kid enters the old house.)