Okay, everyone! It's been a few weeks, so we're officially going to call the Kickstarter voting. The final tally looked something like this:
Votes for Option A: 22
Votes for Option B: 2
Votes for Option C: 9
Those following along from the last update may notice that there's an option C on that list, which didn't actually exist in the original post, where we offered options A and B. That's because a startling number of people here at Kickstarter (but very few over at our official blog) suggested "option C", which was essentially "just keep doing what you're doing and let us know when it's done, we're not bothered about it", which was very excellent of them. (Salutes, you folks.) Not represented on this table are also a large number of votes of "C, but A I guess if that isn't an option," which started popping up around the same time as well.
So, without getting into it too greatly: you're all fantastic, and we love that backers offered a new option of their own organically to let us know what they thought about the process. When we offered options A and B, it was because we were hearing from various backers and followers of the project that they really needed to see something concrete sooner rather than later, and since we agree that this project has gone on much longer than anticipated and you folks deserve to see some return on that investment, we came up with a few ideas for how to do that. Option C, nice though it would be for us because we wouldn't have to do anything extra, wouldn't help those folks whose voices we were responding to in the first place, so we're going to have to decide not to go with it. But of the original two options, A clearly won by a landslide (even more so if you count the "C, but I guess A" votes, which jump that 22 up to a 35), so A it is! We will be working toward fulfilling that plan!
First Important Thing: Everything we're working on to implement Option A is stuff that had to be done before the book was finished, anyway. That means that those of you who voted C, or who aren't voting at all but were worried about delays, can mostly rest easy that we're not stopping to do things that make it take longer for you to get the final product. What we are doing is mostly redirecting the specific things we're working on so that the things Option A needs done get done first, and everything else will be done later after it's out the door. There will still be a small delay, I won't lie to you - at the end we'll have to stop to proofread everything and then put it into a form we can release to backers - but it won't be a very big one.
Second Important Thing: As we have all discovered together on this winding journey, date estimates have been difficult to come up with and often don't reflect the actual final completion date. So, instead of taking a guess (educated, but still a guess) at when Option A will be finished and ready to rock, we've put together a checklist of all the things that need to get done before that, so you can follow along as they get completed.
Since obviously you folks aren't in our workroom watching progress on these things, that may be a little opaque, so here's a quick rundown on what each of the things on those tables means!
- Augments we've talked about before on the HJ blog: these are essentially "boosters" that Heroes can get through the Web of Fate that allow them to enhance their other powers or gain system advantages as they go forward. We're just doing the Mortal-level Augments at the moment, in pursuit of getting Option A packaged for all of you, and will go back to do the Immortal and Divine ones afterward.
- The Hunter Endowment, Persistence, has been a mechanical thorn in our sides for a while, but as you can see, it's finally finished! It's in playtesting now, so hopefully we'll be able to call that done soon, as long as no egregious problems crop up from it.
- Character Creation Tweaks refer to a few notes we've been collecting over the course of playtesting, mostly referring to making sure starting characters are appropriate in power level and start with their most essential tools. We have a few old legacy rules to go back and update, which hopefully won't take long.
- Divine Favor Selections are an appendix item, and are essentially a list of sample forms Divine Favor can take that a GM can use for inspiration or just lift and put into their own Saga without worrying about having to balance or design themselves. We aren't including everything that is an "example" type of material in the Option A PDF, since some of them aren't essential to beginning to try the game out, but DFs are noticeable enough to characters that we think it's worth taking the time to do it for them.
- The Hero's Journey Structure is so close to being done that we almost crossed it out, but there are a few edges we'd still like to smooth. This item refers to providing a sketch of what the HJ is in terms of this game, how it's used, and a few helpful asides to give GMs examples or visuals to move it along.
- The Magic Item Table is exactly what it sounds like: there are magic items in the game, and sometimes players might find some (or, if they're Creators, make some!), which means the GM can use some guidance about what they do and how to stat and roll for them. We couldn't really be fair to the Creator Aspect if we didn't include this in the Option A package, but happily it's both required for the book to be complete anyway, and something that will probably come up even for Creator-light games.
- Odyssey Event Selections are another appendix item of suggestions or examples that can be used by a GM, this time referring to Travel Episodes and all the glorious problems they bring with them. It's been under organic development as part of the playtests for a while now, and we don't anticipate it taking very long to complete once we buckle down on it!
- Prophecy Effect Testing is an ongoing thing we're doing in both rewriting some powers for clarity and watching them play out in playtests; essentially, many mythologies and religious have tales of people who can see omens of the future, read portents of things to come, or experience visions of foretold events, but this is hard to model in a tabletop game where none of the players or the GM actually have precognition, so we've had to play with different approaches a lot over time. Our current powersets are working on twin options of "the player foresaw it, so the GM makes it happen later" for things that are not too disruptive to the game, and "the player immediately triggers it, but it was something they foresaw/knew, and it should be clear that they did not actually cause it".
- Time/Downtime System Tweaks refer to a few places where the system needs clarification as far as realtime vs. gametime and how to manage the passage of both in actual play. A few things from our original chapter need to be altered based on playtests, but shouldn't be a big hardship.
- The Volatile Item Table is similar to the Magic Item Table, except, as you might expect, worse for everyone involved; volatile items are a special class of things in the game that are unstable and may be great and useful, or may cause a random effect, or may blow up in everyone's faces, depending on how destiny feels like treating you that day. These are again very necessary for the Creator players, who may create or affect these types of things, so they're a final entry in the "lists of stuff" column that needs to be addressed.
- XP System Tweaks are another thing that we already know the issues with and just need to write up alternatives to; playtesting has suggested some problems with advancement in the original setup that we need to solve with some quick fiddling. This will be a quick one in terms of us doing it, but may need a little time to get crossed off as we make sure it holds up under testing.
Since we don't want to flood you folks with notifications, we'll be continuing with updates over at the official HJ Blog, where you'll probably see that checklist popping up several times (hopefully with an increasing number of items crossed off!). We'll stay focused on character creation and Mortal-level hijinks for a while in order to get the Option A PDF done and ready to send to backers, and then we'll move on to finishing the higher-level stuff while you check out the base!
Thanks again to everyone for your input and feedback - it's important to us and we hope we can use it to keep doing better. Until next time!
It’s been a long wait on Hero’s Journey, and friends: that sucks. We know it sucks. We’ve been hearing your frustrations about it, and we know something’s got to give. We’re not going to go into all the reasons for the delays right now; some you already know if you’ve been following us, and others are irrelevant because let’s face it, explaining them doesn’t help the book get out any faster.
What we are going to do is talk about what we’re doing for you backers in the meantime. It’s been a long wait and you all more than deserve something to show for it.
You’ve given us some great suggestions for how to help keep you involved and get things to you faster, so today, we’re going to start putting some of those into action! You’ve been incredibly patient and we appreciate that deeply - so much so that we would throw an appreciation party if you weren’t in lots of different countries and we didn’t still have lots of work to do. So, to keep from having to make you be any more patient than you have to be, we’re looking for a way to help get HJ to you faster (like, real soon faster!), and we want your input on how to do that. Below we have two options for ways we can get HJ in some form out the door and into your hands sooner, and make sure that, as backers, you get rewarded for your investment and support even while the project takes longer than expected.
In Option A, we’ll release the entire basic-level Hero’s Journey game directly to you, the backers who pledged for it, in a no-frills content-only PDF, so that you can immediately start reading and playing it. Since almost all the work we still have to do regards fine-tuning issues at higher levels of the game, the only things that won’t be included are higher-level powers, which we’ll continue working on while you check out the game’s backbone, character creation, and the kinds of sagas it can design. You will still get all your promised rewards as soon as we finish the outstanding work and send the book to print, without having to wait for that day to get a look at the game you backed.
- Play Now! You can, if you so choose, start creating characters and even running beginning-level games as soon as you receive the material! All the rules for actually running a game, as well as powers for beginning characters and guidelines for GMs, will be immediately available to you.
- Talk About the Game. If you choose, you can discuss the game and give feedback on it via our blog or forum. As designers, we work hard to make sure nothing is broken and to playtest the game thoroughly, but there are hundreds of you with hundreds of extra brains out there, so if you want to bring something up before publication, you can. (Nobody has to be our free playtesters, though, so don’t think you do.) We’ll also all get the opportunity to talk about how things work in blog posts and on the forums with more freedom.
- Get Extra Stuff. Those of us designing player aids and extras that we were planning to provide for download anyway in the future will be able to get a jump on them since there will be people actively playing and able to tell us what they’d like, which means that those things can come out faster and already be ready to go when you receive the finalized book.
- No Change in Rewards. You will still get all promised backer rewards, including a shiny fancy book (or fancy art-filled and linked PDF), dice, prints, etc., as soon as we can go to press. You just get access to the game itself before then, so you don’t have to wait anymore to actually play it.
- Game Leaks. Although we will only release this information to backers who already pledged to get the book in some form, there’s always the chance that someone will, either accidentally or intentionally, leak it to the rest of The Internet. This would mean that backers didn’t have exclusive access to it anymore (although they would still get their much fancier physical or PDF copy at the end), and that we could potentially lose the opportunity for some other folks in the future to buy it, since it was already out there.
- Preparation Pause. There would be a slight slowdown in work on finishing the game for final publication, so that we could get the team together to throw together the material already finished in a decent format and then release it to all of you before moving on.
In Option B, instead of spending even more time working on the outstanding fine-tuning issues remaining, we package up the game as it is now and send that sucker to print, producing a Hero’s Journey official core rulebook right away. The book would omit the higher-level powers and rules we are currently working on in order to avoid making you wait for them any longer, and backers would get all their rewards on a much faster timetable, with the material left out saved, expanded, and released later as a supplement for those who wanted it.
- Books Get Printed! We would be sending the book to print pretty much as soon as the art department can get the current material laid out and ready to go, which means there would be a real-live book in your hands much, much faster.
- Get Non-Book Stuff. You also get all your other rewards, which have been hanging out in boxes at our house, waiting forlornly for the book to be finished so they can see the light of day. If you’re a person who isn’t even getting a book, and only pledged for dice or something, you no longer have to wait around for the book you’re not even reading to be finished before you get them. (For those of you who aren’t getting a book, the only reason we haven’t sent you your other rewards yet is that we didn’t want it to be unfair to those who got your rewards and a book who would have wait longer even though they pledged more.)
- Future Expanded Material. Having more time to work on higher-level parts of the game will allow us to incorporate more material in them than was originally planned for the core book (for example, extra systems for specialized things like animal companions), so that the game unfolds more since we aren’t trying to rush it as much.
- Books Out in the World. Because the book will be officially released, it can also be made available to folks who missed the Kickstarter window or who might be interested in checking it out.
- Less Content. The book comes out right away, but has less content in it than originally planned - it will have everything you need to play at the Mortal level, but it will not have higher-level powers and will not go as in-depth into Immortal- and Divine-level specific systems and issues. It will still have extras achieved from stretch goals (for example, Fire powers), just at Mortal levels.
- Editing Pause. Although the book would definitely come out faster, there would still be some delay while we went back and removed material and graphic design elements that referred to higher levels of play, before it could be released and we could move on to continue working on the next set of stuff.
- Level Cap. If you play and love HJ and your game wants to move on to higher levels, or you were a player who wanted to start at a higher level or convert a higher-level game from another system, you will not be able to do so right away, and you would have to get another book (with more cool stuff in it, but another book nonetheless) in order to do so.
What we’d like to ask of you backers - all of you, whether you pledged one dollar or one hundred, although we'll be paying special attention to those who pledged for a book and are most affected - is which of these options you’d prefer we went with. You can leave comments here, or send us a message, or comment on the blog post over on the official HJ site - but let us know! We want to make sure we provide the one that the majority of backers want, and that we do it soon, so that you have something to show for your dedication while we trudge toward the finish line.
We’ll probably be doing one of these two options above, but if you have a suggestion for a different way you’d like to see backers brought more into the loop and given more access (other than “finish the damn book”, which we agree with but are already working on as much as possible), leave that here for us, too! We’ll be watching this space and ready to discuss it if you do.
We're into 2016, which means a big update is in order! (If you follow the HJ blog, you've already seen most of this info, so this one is for the KS-only folks.) Unfortunately, due to some art delays, we don't have another NPC spoiler for you right now, but we do have information, which is probably even better. Here's a quick run-down on what's up with HJ: what's doing great, what hasn't done as hot as we were hoping, and where we're headed.
Blessings are done, y'all! I don't think I can express exactly how exciting that is from our perspective because oh MAN they were a lot of work, but baby, they are done! At final count, Hero's Journey will have exactly six hundred and eighty Blessings when it ships, which includes 420 Blessings from Aspects (the ones from the Web of Fate that have to do with your skills as a Hero), 180 Blessings from Domains (the ones that have to do with areas of magical/elemental/spiritual powers that normal people don't have access to), and 80 Blessings from the Devotionals (the ones that are unique to the pantheon you, as a Hero, serve). We have tiny little Blessings for Heroes who are just starting out and are just that little bit more impressive than normal humans who haven't been touched by the divine, and we have enormous world-shaking fundament-altering Blessings for Heroes who have become deities themselves. And everything in between.
Basically we are really excited about being done with these. I would say that you don't know, except I'm pretty sure that if you've been following the blog and listening to us talk about them and complain about them and say we're alllllmost there for months, you're probably pretty excited to hear it, too.
Augments, on the other hand, are not done yet, since they depended on the Blessings before they could really achieve velocity, but they're in the process of being worked on right now. There are no Augments for Devotionals (and I mean, really, they don't need them, they're ridiculous all on their own), but there are for both Aspect and Domain Blessings, and they range from "slightly extend time that Blessing's effects last" to "make Blessing do whole additional dimension of ridiculousness", and a lot in between. They're (hopefully) moving faster than Blessings, since they're adding to existing material instead of reinventing the wheel all the time, and we'll keep you updated on them.
Playtesting has been super useful lately, with some more concrete feedback on things that weren't working for players or didn't pan out as intended in play in spite of how good they looked on paper. Having long-running games that had time to figure out their skills and get entrenched in and develop characters has definitely paid off with info about issues we might not have encountered in shorter-run stories, and we've done some good tweaking lately (some of which you'll hear about in the next section!).
Endowments (Aspect-specific subsystems), as we suspected and talked about a few months ago on the HJ blog, have been revealed over more testing to not all be stacking up equally. That sucks, because it would have been nice for them to be done, but has resulted in us rewriting them to make them better, which I think we can all agree is a good thing that will make the overall game more enjoyable. For those who were following along with this post a while ago about Aspect subsystems, the Empowerment, Overextension, and Persistence systems were performing poorly in comparison to the other subsystems in play, consistently enough to need retooling.
There's a silver lining on that one, at least - we have updated versions of the subsystems for Creator and Warrior Heroes ready to go, and we'll get to share them with y'all in some blog posts soon as we try to get Hunter to cooperate and finish out the lineup. So stay tuned on that one.
Art delays, something that we haven't actually had much of a problem with over the course of this project, have cropped up in the past few months, mostly revolving around the additional art of Kickstarter-pledged NPCs we're waiting on. This isn't really a problem as far as publication goes - obviously, it's not like we're waiting on art and nothing else right now - but it has resulted in fewer NPC spoilers than we were planning on, so apologies to those waiting for them. We've just seen one more character come back recently and are waiting on the last few to make their way back to us. Barring some kind of Canadian zombie apocalypse tragedy, those should all be completed with plenty of time to spare as far as actual printing of books goes.
Obviously, the big sadness is that we aren't shipping you books right now. Those of you following the blog have heard a lot of the reasons why, so I won't rehash them; but we are still not there yet, which is disappointing to everyone here, and we know to all of you, too. Obviously, with the issues of first-time game devs being bad at estimating time investment needed, occasional playtesting hiccups, and sometimes members of the team falling deathly ill, providing you with new deadlines hasn't been working, so instead, we're going to focus on what we're doing, and how close that gets us to being finished and on our way. So, let's look at:
What's Coming Next:
Here's what our to-do list looks like for the beginning of the year. (Well, not actually, our actual to-do list is on like three whiteboards and is covered in scribbles and side notes and is basically incomprehensible to anyone except for us, so this is the clean version, readable by human beings.)
- Finish the Augments. These are the last large piece of the actual game left outstanding, and they've already been started, so we just need to confront and kick their asses as efficiently as possible. This will involve checking them against each other and the whole big sprawl of the Blessings landscape, so it is intensive, but we're hopeful that it won't be nearly as slow as the Blessings process was.
- The Hunter Endowment Subsystem. Hunters. Every time. This is the last of the Aspect subsystems to need an overhaul, and will hopefully get straightened out organically as we work on the Hunter Augments here and are immersed in Hunteryness for a while... but if it doesn't, it'll be next up. Ideally this won't take too long, other than testing it in live games to make sure the darn thing works this time.
- Outstanding Appendix Tables. Like most RPG books, HJ's has an appendix that has maps and tables and other good stuff in it, and a couple of those tables are still in the sketched-but-not-fleshed stage. Off the top of my head, I know we still need to finalize some sample Divine Favor, work on the ever-popular Volatile Item table, and some other things of that nature. Again, hopefully not a very time-intensive step, but one that needs to be done to make sure all player tools are in place. This is the last thing that actually involves any writing - after this, written content is done!
- Finalize NPCs and their Art. As noted above, we're still waiting on some art to come back for these folks, although you can see that they're not pressing right now. Finalizing them will mostly have to do with cross-checking them with the finished Blessings and Aspects to make sure their character sheets are correct, and making sure no one is an unbalanced Unplayable Character Mess after all's said and done.
- Jess, John, and Anne Proofing Party. After all that, John and I will have to sit down and read the entire book, now in its final order, from cover to cover a few times and make sure everything makes sense, there aren't any weird quirks or legacy rules left from earlier versions in there, and that nothing jumps out as in the wrong place or section or as being worded poorly. This will probably happen over a week or so while in pajamas and yelling passionately at each other about minute details no one cares about. Somewhere, probably being about fifty times more professional, our lead editor, Jess, will also be doing this, and hopefully telling us that we did great and there don't need to be too many more changes.
- The Final Layout. At that point, the book's done and the art department is in charge of final arting and laying-out of pages. They've done a lot of prep work for this and we have full confidence in their ability to be amazing at it, so holy bananas, that will definitely be an exciting day. Because after that day... things get to be printed! And that's the end, y'all. That's what we're doing and where we're headed. Today, Augments: tomorrow (or at some point) the world.
Despite our community manager's diligent attempts to drag us out of our poorly-lit writing dungeon for meetings once in a while, news has been slow to come out to you folks, so we're looking to get that moving again. The HJ Blog is the absolute best place to keep up with regular updates (although of course we'll still post big stuff here on KS!), and our CM's updates will continue to talk about where we are in the process and what we're working on at the moment, while the writers will be doing some more focused updates on specific issues and spoilers that will hopefully be fun for all of you. In no particular order, Some recent update posts you might want to catch up on include these:
- Mechanics Spoilers: New Aspect Endowments
- Army of the Gods: Cooperative Gameplay in HJ
- Mechanics Talk: Ghosts of Mechanics Past
We'll talk more about the future of HJ (hopefully, a bright one) as we get closer to the end of the tunnel, but that's all for now!
For this month's NPC sneak peek, we're doing something a little different: a higher-level Hero, one who's been around the block a few times and definitely knows what she's doing! Diane here is a powerhouse diplomat and negotiator, and her powers ensure that when she speaks, everyone else stops what they're doing and listens.
Like the other NPCs we've posted recently, this is one pledged for by one of our fabulous backers, and we love getting to share them as they finish the process! As always, thank you all for your patience, and please feel free to check on the Hero's Journey Blog for more frequent progress reports.