The Golem-Stitched Ground Hog Pokes his Head Out
Is that a shadow? If that's a shadow I'm out of here. Or at least my extra, detachable head is out of here. The rest of my necromantically animated form will probably hang out for awhile.
This is what comes from hanging out too long in The Blight. (sigh)
Hello, Everyone. First of all massive apologies are in order. You've probably noticed that you're reading this Blight update on the KS website rather than reading a copy of the book in your hand (or as a pdf, whatever). And for that I personally and the Frogs collectively are profusely sorry. We never set out to get behind on a project delivery date, but we have proven to be unintentionally capable regardless. Last year we got behind because of an ambitious project schedule. This year we purposely curbed the number of Kickstarters we've had going on to avoid that very thing, and a whole bunch of other things came up to thwart us. But, long story short, The Blight has been slow, but it is still going and will be delivered. No danger of it not getting to you; it's just tardy.
My purpose for this post is two-fold: First, though you've probably heard a lot of it already, I wanted to let you know the reasons for the delays in The Blight and explain them. It doesn't make it any faster, but hopefully it'll at least make more sense. Second, I wanted to give you an update on where we're at on it and take a look at the project going forward.
Where to begin? Part of the delay in this project is still fallout from our schedule last year. Namely, we got so jammed up on things that I was still doing writing and development on The Northlands Saga Complete (a KS project from months prior to The Blight) even as The Blight KS was winding down. Several bonus modules got added to the Northlands KS, so even after the Northlands book was completed I had to turn my attention to writing and development on a handful of separate adventures that put things even farther behind the 8-ball. However, eventually we got through it all and Northlands was completed and eventually delivered in full. So with that we were finally through all the backlog of 2015 KS writing and development that was not Blight stuff.
My school schedule has been a common refrain, I know, and probably one everybody is tired of hearing about. I know I'm surely sick of talking about it, but it is a factor that has affected deliverables and continues to do so. I have mentioned previously that in the spring was my most time-demanding stretch so far. I had my surgery and internal medicine rotations back to back from the beginning of January to the end of April. This is also when I was working on Northlands stuff primarily (as mentioned previously) and sleeping the least that I ever have, including my time in the Army. So, yay! Fun! :-) Obviously it limited what I was able to do and slowed down the Northlands stuff. Starting in May I was in anesthesiology and ophthalmology, which were much less time-demanding and roughly coincided with when I was able to devote my full development attention to The Blight (or so I thought).
Cons: Cons are cool. Cons are good for the company. They help us to grow our customer base, meet and hang out with our fans, advertise our products to a larger circle, network and make deals with other writers, editors, developers, printers, distributors, etc. They help keep FGG alive and viable. But they are also time sucks. :-/
Bard's Gate: I can imagine a lot of people have been asking why we launched Bard's Gate before we completed The Blight. Just to add gasoline to that fire a little bit, I'll give you even more information. I got pulled away from working on The Blight as May rolled around to work on final development on Bard's Gate. It makes no sense on the surface and was super frustrating to me personally because I felt like I was letting our Blight backers down by working on Bard's Gate with Blight still pending. But it wasn't crazy and and thoughtless like I'm sure it seemed; there was actual a real reason for it. In short it was a perfect storm of two separate arms of the company converging at that crucial moment when The Blight was needing attention.
I'll give you a quick rundown so you're not in the dark and then get back to more stuff about The Blight. Bard's Gate is a very important book for FGG and is an integral lynch pin for our nascent Lost Lands setting in a way that no other book has been--including Rappan Athuk, Slumbering Tsar, or Sword of Air--because Bard's Gate is central to developing the campaign setting, not just an adventure or adventures. Nothing will be as important to Lost Lands development (which is virtually synonymous with the health of FGG) as Bard's Gate up until the Campaign Setting itself is released (more on that later). So Bard's Gate was not a frivolous, last-minute, tacked-on project like it might have seemed. Bard's Gate has been in the works for several years. If you're familiar with the original book, you know its a really great resource but it had a lot of fundamental problems. It was not organized well and was difficult to use; it had a lot of great ideas that were incompletely fleshed out and were in some cases contradictory; it had some major issues with game mechanics. So I spent about a year back in 2014 going over the book with a fine-toothed comb to find out what needed to be done to both preserve its original intent and to reorganize and expand it so that it actually fulfilled its original intent. After that process I came up with an expansive outline of additional material that needed to be written to complete what had been begun. I completed that outline and we hired Casey Christofferson (who wrote most of the original) to delve back into his playground and write a bunch more. Also, if you know the original book you know it had about 80 million stat blocks, all of which had to be converted to Pathfinder/S&W/5e. So we got started on that with several converters.
So all of this was going on behind the scenes for a couple years. I had done my initial portion on the book early and moved on to the 2015 schedule. During the course of these things occurring offstage, while I was doing other stuff, Bill was somehow able to reach a really nice sweetheart deal on printing the book, allowing us to keep its cost down even while doing full color, etc. But the deal relied on it going to the printer by a specific deadline. I'm sure it had something to do with a lull in the printer's schedule that they were wanting to fill or something. You'd have to ask Bill for more specifics on that. But the sum result was that if Bard's Gate missed its printer deadline, we could no longer print it for the cost that we had budgeted and suddenly FGG would be looking at a financial crisis. Fast forward to May when I'm working on The Blight, and suddenly all of these separate pieces orbiting out in space all crash together in a meteor swarm. Everything came together at once and the clock was ticking on getting it to the printer. In addition to all the pre-work I had done to get the initial form of the book into shape, I had known I would need to write extensively on the world aspects to make the book fulfill what we needed it to as a campaign lynch pin. I couldn't write those portions in advance because a lot of that material was being developed in Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms, Borderland Provinces, Sword of Air, and yes, even The Northlands Saga. I needed those pieces before I could tie the puzzle together as a whole. So in May I found all the pieces finally available, the written book ready for its final development, and a printer deadline breathing down my neck. And I had to write about three chapters worth of new material. Necessity forced me to set aside The Blight again so we could make our deadline on Bard's Gate, so that FGG wouldn't take a financial bath on that project, so we could actually send you your Blight books rather than Blight KS refunds as we shuttered the doors to the company. Definitely a position we need to avoid finding ourselves in the future. So enough about Bard's Gate. I just wanted to give you the skinny on why it may have seemed like it received favoritism as a priority over The Blight. It was simply an inexorable convergence or separate demands that had different kinds of time sensitivities. Probably not a satisfying explanation for you, but you deserved to know it anyway. :-/
Other Stuff: Our webmaster and marketing manager had a baby!! That's good news, but it does not improve speed on internal things. Our art director and layout wizard encountered severe health problems and underwent a major surgery. He did very well and has worked very hard to get back up to speed, but obviously that slows the process down as well. And while each of these things may not directly affect the Blight's production, each of them affects something that snowballs with something else so there becomes a thousand tiny little fires to put out. Not Blight fires (those smell way worse), but fires that take time to put out that takes time away from working on the Blight. :-(
More School Stuff: Ha! You thought we'd already done this one. Well, the joke's on me! This one seems like it never ends. My schedule is much less demanding time-wise right now, but I also have my boards in Oct/Nov plus residency interviews. So while I am in the hospital less, there remain competing demands. It is not a critical situation like during Surgery when it was physically impossible for me to take time to look at FGG stuff, but it does have an affect and I'm wanting to be up front with you. I will continue to work within those bounds as I am able, and The Blight will indeed continue to undergo its development, but it is a factor and you deserve to know about it.
So those are snapshot of what's been going on when it seemed like The Blight just fell off the edge of the world and was forgotten. But even when things have been quiet, I assure that the wheels have continued to turn. At no time has The Blight been abandoned and all work stopped on it. It slows to a crawl sometimes, but it's always been ongoing. And I know there have been requests for updates and information, but as you can see from this post, giving any real quality information that's not just some hollow placation requires a time investment in itself. And oftentimes the questions being asked don't have an answer yet. Not saying that you guys don't deserve to be kept abreast, because you absolutely do, it's just that many times I've had to choose between maintaining an online presence fielding questions and posting informative updates versus actually working on the products themselves so I could get them into your hands sooner. Bill and Skeeter and Chuck and Chris and Silverhair have all been posting here and there, so it's not like FGG has gone dark during this time but I know the info they've given hasn't been satisfying. So I had been holding off until I could give it the time it deserved. Which brings me to today.
Why am I finally posting today? Well, we've hit a significant milestone. I have now completed writing and development on The Tome of Blighted Horrors. All we lack is one more monster from Richard (currently underway) and the final pieces of art (also underway). About 80% of the art is in as is 100% of the book other than the one monster (It's the fleshgine if you want to know). Why is this book so significant? Well, even though its not the biggest book in the project, and all the others have already been written, it is easily the most rules-heavy piece of the project. It is what established the place and function of a lot of what makes the rest of the project work. It codifies the rules of what it means to be a monster from Between and how that affects a monster's stats and abilities. It provides the flavor on a TON of stuff about the Blight (because a TON of the Blight's flavor is inextricably linked with its occupants--including its monstrous occupants). And, of course, it provides stat blocks for easy plug-in in locations where these new monsters appear. So that's all great and goes a long way to smooth the path for the other Blight books in development. Plus, while the KS promised 64 new monsters in this book (it's actually 65, because I snuck a bonus one in there just for kicks), as I count the stat blocks I come up with 89. A lot of the monster entries have multiple stat blocks because of multiple versions of the monster or multiple monsters that all fall under that heading. So you are getting A LOT more than 64 (65) monsters with this book. It has taken a while to develop as I've received the turnovers in from the authors working with me on it, but it will be worth it because you're getting a much bigger and better book than just a simple little folio of 64 new monsters. I think you're going to like The Tome of Blighted Horrors. :-)
I'll start posting some of the art samples to give you a taste of what you'll be getting in this book. And with it done, it's now full throttle on the 5 bonus modules: Bloody Jack is already through development and editing and is in the conversion process to S&W and 5e (it may actually be done with S&W now that I think about it). The Crucible and The Crooked Nail are both in development. The Children of the Harvest and Horror in the Sinks have both been turned in.
The main book has been turned in some time ago and has gone through two development passes. I'll do my final development pass and have a couple chapters worth of material to add for campaign setting purposes (kind of like what I did with Bard's Gate), and if you've seen our histories/timelines in our other books you know the extensive in-world treatment that these get.
The poster maps are being made in conjunction with the development of the main book.
The Maladies cards are essentially done with design (I had to get through the Tome of Blighted Horrors to be able to include the monsters), so as soon as we can pull young Chris away from his baby we'll get production on those fired up (I'm kidding, I haven't given them to Chris yet, I just like to blame stuff on baby's because they can't defend themselves). ;-)
Players Guide, Players Handbook, and GM's Guide will be created concurrently with development of the main book, much like what was done with Northlands Saga.
We're already putting together the Pathologies ideas, the pre-gens are getting their final development from Al Rigg, and Rich began work on the novella a couple months ago. And I think that's everything I can think of right now.
I can't give you a delivery date, because there are simply too many variables right now for me to be able to guess. I am going to try to distribute pdfs piecemeal to backers as they get through layout if I can get the logistics of that worked out with Bill, so you don't have to wait until everything is at the printer before receiving any of it.
I will try to be more diligent with updates and milestones, but I may not always have an update or milestone so bear with us. We Frogs are slow, but we're steady. I will probably still not be maintaining much of an online presence because if something's got to give in my schedule, I think that it the one that should just because of the time sink it can turn into. Silverhair will continue to give us a heads up on crucial questions and serve as herald with information as much as he can.
So in short, I say all of the above to give you an detailed update and not to make excuses but to give you real and relevant information. If you are frustrated with our slow progress on this, then you are rightfully frustrated for which I apologize and empathize. I am also frustrated by it. You are our customers and our number one priority, but we have to make sure we're giving you the quality that you deserve and have paid for, and unfortunately that takes often inordinate amounts of time...also frustrating. But we thank you for your patience and for your patronage. I really, really hope that when you receive our books they are living up to your expectations on quality and content. The information we have so far says that they have been, and we mean to continue with that. We love what we do here at FGG, and we love that you guys allow us to do it. We're just not very fast at it, but we do get it done.
Thank you again!
P.S. Lost Lands Campaign Setting update: I have received confirmation from Bill that I will not have to work on any more big projects (a la the last 2 years) until the Campaign Setting is done. So that means once I'm through with Blight development, then FGG is officially in campaign setting design mode. Finally! Look for more on that in the coming months. -Greg