Tuesday, February 23, 2016

RM Update #6

Hello all! It's time for my weekly accountability confession.

I finished revising Character Creation this weekend. I always knew it was going to be the chapter that required the most drastic revisions, but, boy howdy, was it a monster. It's easy to forget how central any character creation system is to the mechanics of the game, but revising, adding, deleting, and proofing 20K words of it was certainly a reminder.

It's understandable. Players need information to make the character they want to play, and that information includes everywhere the character sheet touches the mechanics (spoiler: every mechanic is touched upon...that's why it's the character sheet). You've got to provide a quick reference to all those different rules without burying the text that actually get the process done. Meanwhile, you've to to recognize that the majority of potential players go for the character generation chapter before any other part of the book, so you've got to refer to all these mechanics without sacrificing so much setting information that the rules lose context and make the game seem too crunchy to a random customer.

It's an impossible task, and I will most assuredly fail it in the eyes of many readers (it's almost as if RPG players are opinionated or something). But I've slaved over it for two weeks now, using the playtest feedbacks from hundreds of people. If it doesn't work for someone at this point, it's certainly not for a lack of trying.

The above picture is actually out of date. I burned through the revisions in the Upkeep chapter yesterday inbetween taking a picture of my whiteboard and writing this post. The short section on accounting options was always going to be easiest to revise, but I didn't anticipate it would go that smoothly.

I'm working Casualties and Vectors now. As it involves adding a whole bunch of rules (Abberants weren't ready for the beta playtest, but they need to be there for round 2) in addition to revising, this chapter will probably take about as long as Character Creation did to finish. What's after that? There's not much to change about Humanity, so that will go quickly. But then Negotiation is another monster rewrite.

Thus far, I'm happy I've been alternating super-difficult revision with easy tasks that amount to little more than copy editing. Doing the easy stuff first would make rewrites like the Character Creation seems impossible. Conversely, doing all the crappy work first begs for burnout. It's all a matter of tricking your brain into doing the actual work, and I'm very grateful I had a few book-length projects under my belt before starting this thing.

Ideally, I can get the revisions done before the end of Spring Break. If I can manage that, It'll give me two months to plan the Kickstarter and write the worst part of all: ad copy. That's going to be agony, but schedule and snow days willing, I'll be able to get it done early enough that I can cleanse my palette by writing setting material for a few weeks before my every waking second gets hijacked by begging for retweets and answering backer questions.

Okay! That's all the new fit for print. The first playtest campaign -- The Brutalists -- is still being posted up at RPPR. For more "thrilling," hit me up on Twitter @HebanonGCal.


  1. we'll i for one greatly appreciate your hard work, and look forward to the kickstarter.

  2. Sounds good! Keep up the work!

    Guess you'll have to go back to the Puritan analogies when you do the Kickstarter Planning episode of GDW?

  3. Curiosity: How much of 'revision' involves actual mechanics tweaks having to be elucidated versus plain re-editing? I'm interested as far as the writing what percentage you'd say was in relation to players reading it and going 'I don't get this,' and how much of it wasn't, because I find writing itself to be a mystery and game writing doubly so.

  4. It's tough to give it a percentage, but I can say that plain old editing goes far faster than having to add in new mechanics or explaining existing systems more in depth. For instance, combat didn't change a whole lot. It was quite easy to polish up that chapter and clarify some things. Negotiations, on the other hand, is a nightmare that's taking me about as long as editing all the other sections combined. There was a lot of confusion, mainly because it's the most original concept in the game and doesn't have a lot of precedent elsewhere. I need to not only completely rewrite sections of the rules to reflect playtest changes, but the whole chapter needs to be reorganized so it better teaches the reader how to run that part of the game.

  5. Geez, the playtests of this on RPPR are amazingly good.