A Different Kind Of Text
My "near final" text is out to a handful of readers for final feedback on stuff like problematic sentence construction and punctuation. So let me tell you about it.
People look across the landscape of RPGs that no one ever plays, and maybe they compare them to the rules for board games they play all the time, and decide the important factor is that RPGs fail to be good procedural texts. Well, I actually don't think that's the important textual factor for gamemastered RPGs getting played. I think it's how well the text hooks and inspires a gamemaster and group to want to play it. And part of that is how well the game's world and themes install themselves in the reader through the text.
So in The Clay That Woke you encounter forward references. You hear about name and silence tokens before you hear about the rest. The Krater of Lots gets mentioned several times before its procedures are fully detailed. The fiction is sliced up throughout. You hear about some setting elements in the fiction, and some in the expository text. The whole thing keeps pulling you forward as a reader, because there's always something you want to hear more about, so the whole game as a living, writhing object can take up residence in your brain.
And the theory was pretty much proved out in playtesting. People got drawn in by reading it and were eager to play.
But wait, then how do you use a text like that during the game? The solution in The Clay That Woke is a uniquely constructed Table of Contents. It doesn't match the sequence of the book like a traditional Table of Contents. And it's not alphabetic, like a traditional index. It's organized conceptually, the way I'd have organized the book if I'd written it like a traditional RPG text. All the stuff about minotaur characters is together. All the stuff about the procedures of play is together. All the stuff about the game world is together. And all the stuff about gamemastering is together. So you'll be able to quickly find anything you need while you're playing the game. Here's a look at a few pages of Brennen's draft layout for it. The listed items are from an earlier iteration of the text, but it's good enough to give you the idea.
So anyway, it's going to miss the August target date. But not by too much. Thanks for sticking with me. I don't think you'll be disappointed.