I’ve been spending more time this past week getting the Heretical DnD project a bit farther down field.

I went through about three or four different playtest reports and a complete edit of the Adventuring chapter. I have a few things I still need to work out, but by and large, I feel like if I can put this part – which is shorter by far than the rest of the manuscript – D&D5 really is a compact ruleset from an in-play perspective.

The things still to be resolved?

Things that you’ll recognize if you’ve been following either the Heretical posts or some of the other noodlings I’ve done.

I’m undecided on which of a few variants of ranged weapon rules to use. DnD rounds being six seconds gives time to draw, aim, and loose at least one, if not more, arrows per round. The interaction with the existing rules isn’t bad, per se, but it still feels like there’s something missing here.

The grappling rules are getting better and better, and thanks to  good poke about an ancient black dragon fighting Tinkerbell, I think I’ve come up with a pretty elegant way to handle things that deals with the issues of edge cases organically.

I think the new shield rules are good. But they didn’t see any use in the playtests since they were rewritten from the first concept. As noted here in Hit, Miss, Armor, Shield I had originally wanted to have shields giving what would effectively be more hit points – stress points in the concept in the prior post. This worked mechanically very well in playtest! But the narrative unification that I was looking for didn’t. What do you do when you’re down HP after a fight? Re-ready your shield? Does that cost you hit dice? Why not, or why so? Ultimately, having shields be a reserve of hit points worked on a mechanics level but not as a unification of narrative and mechanics. So it had to go. A better brainstorm came up with an alternate concept that I like. It’s elegant and unified, and hopefully it’ll play well – and how it play with the bow rules above is crucial.

Finally, I really want to make use of the expanded critical hit range that I posted about after +Fabio Milito Pagliara inspired me with the concept. Not doing that right away was a miss, but without the rules that I’ve got now, that would just be a spin cycle. With the rules almost settled, adding this in should be friendlier.

There’s still much to do.  I’ve got a lot done on spells – revising them is a huge task, and the amount of editing and formatting that goes into them is not small. I’ve got equipment done, bu there are revisions and concepts that will be added there as well (shields and armor both go there, for example).

I dread adding the monsters. Yeeeargh that’s going to be an ugly edit. So. Much. Reformatting.

And some setting work. I’ve decided what it’s going to be, and now I need to write it. I may wind up soliciting help from the peanut gallery for this. 

The file in MS Word format is 125,000 words long now, over 300 pages. This consolidates down by about 40% when it’s laid out in PDF format with a 2-column layout. I really like the look of what my layout guy has done, too. One day I’ll get him a final draft and then we can start making holes for artwork, and at that point, I have to consider how I take it over the goal-line. Probably Kickstarter, but I’ll have to study how they’ve been used well (and +Erik Tenkar will keep me honest about how they are used badly). 

Until then, this is what is denying me sleep a lot, and when a weekend goes by without a review post or a Friday-Saturday pair of Gaming Ballistic content posts, this is why.

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