Update: Status, Finalization, and the Home Stretch
It's been a long quiet summer as we all had our heads down over here, doing a lot of detail work in visual design, editing, and final outstanding mechanical decisions. It's... well, we're not going to lie, it was mostly boring stuff - re-examining the same mechanic to decide if we wanted to finally choose the version with a 5% chance of occurring or a 4 % chance, rewording Blessings that turned out to be not as clear as we wanted them to be, refining the options on some tables that could be rolled on, and so on. But into every RPG some tedium must fall, (hopefully all on the creation end!), and now it's winding down.
Now that most of what remains is specialty work, the team is mostly split up doing detail work so that we can come back together with a finished product as soon as possible. Here's what's going on!
John: John, our systems designer and mechanics tester, is just finishing up the last of the final editing pass of the Devotional Blessing system, which provides special powers to Heroes based on which pantheon their divine patron belongs to. Starting on Monday, he will move on to final mechanics testing on the Sphere Blessings - making sure that everything is still balanced with everything else, that we don't see unnecessary power duplication, and that the interplay between different Spheres is all going according to plan.
He is also running several different playtest games in order to gather data on how the game runs in action, and making sure that any tweaks that need to happen are sent over to be written ASAP. In the next few weeks, he'll also be starting to run one of the Kickstarter games pledged for in the Venturer of Vistas reward tier, since the players in it elected to start early and be part of the playtesting process. (We can't wait!)
Anne: As the head writer, I am currently processing the last changes John sent over from his final pass of the Devotionals, and documenting any written Blessings that still have questions attached (for example, does this power affect anyone or only the Heroes? is this power still in effect when a Hero is knocked unconscious? is this power too vague about how far its effects extend?) for John to double-check. I'm also writing up clarification sidebars for areas that the playtests revealed might be confusing for players, and reading over completed material to make sure there are no relics from pre-edited systems still hanging out in the nooks and crannies of the text.
Royce: Royce, our graphic designer and visual layout head honcho, is working on the last few visuals that still need to be added to the book, including tweaking the trees for the Devotionals and updating character sheets to incorporate a few last-minute alterations. He's pulling double duty as a playtester as well, running some more high-level game scenarios for us to test how the game performs for characters who are well into their adventures. I've heard secret rumors that he's also working on some neat downloadable stuff to be made available on the website at release... but he refuses to confirm or deny this.
Alex: Alex, our art director, is working closely with artist Julian Lancaster to finish the last of the NPC portraits for both backer-reward NPCs and in-house ones (which will both appear in the book!). The majority of the art for the book has been completed, so he's now working with Royce to make sure that it's used to best effect, placed at the best points in the book; in particular, the Pantheons chapter detailing the gods available as divine patrons is currently being processed for layout. He is also doing some advance research for the art needs that the supplement our Immortal Ruler level pledge is entitled to (although this is backburnered, since getting the core book out to all of you is the first priority right now).
Jess: Jess, our lead editor, is spending all her time in the endless mire of the Blessings chapter of the book; she has already completed and given us the go-ahead on most of the other chapter content, but Blessings are the largest chunk of the book and the most recently completed, so she'll be there for a while. She is currently working with the Aspect Blessings, and anticipates moving on to Devotionals and then Spheres as soon as John and Anne get out of her way.
Stephen: Stephen, our webmaster, is mostly behind the scenes during this process, but that doesn't mean he isn't working hard! Having recently conquered a software problem that was allowing spamming and occasional outages on the website, he's now building a new release of the site for the core book's release, as well as helping us out as an additional critical eye on editing and mechanics questions during the finalization process.
So, now that you know what everyone's doing, what's next and what new information can you get about it? Well, if you're interested in keeping up with the current status of the playtest games and what changes they bring about in the final stages of this project, you can visit the official blog, where we have a weekly update on what we learned from playtesting recently and how it might affect the game as a whole. For those who want to catch up on previous posts without going on an archive-spelunking adventure, the first four posts are here:
Cameron, our fabulous community manager, also recently posted a breakdown of our current tentative schedule, which should give those of you looking for a timeline a good place to start.
Finally, since we know things have been slow here on KS and we don't want any of you to feel like you're being left out, we'll be doing a series of updates here as well! Those who pledged for an NPC with the Lord of Lore pledge level have already seen an art spoiler of their characters in our May update, but we're going to do one better and show off the whole character: full artwork, a character sheet, and the character's personality and writeup, posted throughout the next month. This will be almost the full version of the NPC that you'll see in the book, so if you pledged for any of them, you'll be seeing exactly what you've added to the world of Hero's Journey!
We'll be back with those NPCs and other updates as we go along; until then, stay heroic, friends!