So things got busy in April, and I have only made piecemeal progress on the Heretical DnD project.
The draft still stands at roughly 130,000 words, but there has been progress despite no more wordcount increases.
I resolved some longstanding issues with the rules differentiating ranged and melee combat so that they were less differentiated than I had them, which is good. There was starting to be a bit of “a rule for every kind of attack” thing going on, and one of the things I like about D&D5 is that it mostly avoids that sort of trap.
But the new bow rules are at least mathematically sound, though I expect some pointed shots directed my way, and no amount of “the math really does work” will stop that. That’s OK. The tweaks let me unify several other things.
Vague-blogging much? Well, yeah.
This does mean that the monster job I thought I was done with rippling changes through hundreds of damage-dealing spells needs to be done again, though. That’s a job of work, right there. Not that the changes are that extensive – just a word here and a sentence there – but there are a ton of them.
But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel that will mean I have a full draft of the rules that can be productively laid out in a publishable format. At that point, I’ll be ready for the next steps, which will likely include forming a company, Kickstarting to get funding to pay artists, a professional indexer, maybe some custom font work, more art, and to see what my best printing options are. Fortunately, I know a few people that I can turn to for advice.
I’m not going to launch into crowdfunding until I have a playable, complete draft that (theoretically) could go to print. I will use the process to get that draft out into a wider playtest beyond the very capable folks I have looking at it now. Fresh eyes, fresh players, etc.
So, what’s left to do?
The moose in the room: I need a setting history, and a good idea of what’s going on in the kingdom that the limited sandbox that is the field of play and the surroundings. I have some basic seeds, but I need to flesh this out. I will almost certainly use Microscope to execute this, perhaps in several rounds.
I need my team to look over rules changes and tweaks in things like food, water, suffocation, and travel. Those are small but fun.
There are larger but consistent changes to armor and shields, and combat in general, that could use some more fightin’. Some rules and optional rules that have been discussed in the prior year or so on my blog need to be incorporated into the draft (like Everything’s a Ritual if You Have the Time). Some fun tweaks to Reach weapons came up in playtest, too.
There’s a Size Adjustment table that gets a fair bit of use in various rules, such as shoving and grappling, that could use torture testing to ensure that the edge cases really are edge cases.
I want to call out important, universal charts to duplicate in the back of the book, so that all the important stuff can be in one place, and I’m not above duplication here.
I really loved Castles and Chimeras notion of expanded critical threat range, and it sees play in the draft, although not exactly in the way he wrote it up and I tweaked it. But that expansion, plus optional rules for non-standard shields, will probably make it into the appendix.
Because I’m me, I’ve incorporated the grappling rules Peter and I wrote way back when into the main rules. We’ve used them in combat and they’re very, very fun at both 1st level and 6th level, and don’t show signs of strain. Some tweaks for scaling and ensuring a sprite can’t Restrain an ancient black dragon have been finalized, and I like the way they work. I have one more addition I want to make (choke holds!) and that is a very satisfying addition to the 5e rules.
I also have a new, hopefully fun, section on combat fatigue and rest, and combat recovery. I need to add a section on morale and staying power.
The place where I need the most actual new content, other than the setting, is in the characters bit. The SRD is great as a starting point, but it is hard to work with in a few ways:
- Backgrounds – you get one, Acolyte. I probably need to add, or borrow, perhaps a dozen more. Sorting out that which is OGL from that which is not OGL, as well as which ones I just want to write up myself, is daunting. Plus, backgrounds will be flavored very much by the setting, so that has to happen first.
- Subraces. Right now, the draft takes the one subrace per main race type and just munges them together. So you get a Dwarf race, but no Hill Dwarf, Mountain Dwarf, Valley Dwarf, Overhang Dwarf, or anything else. I may reverse this once I get a setting done.
- Sub-classes are tough. You get one per class in the SRD, but the rules reference some of the excised ones. I’ve got some great ideas (so I think) for a few subclasses for my game, but the Wizard will be tough. The schools of magic are given an SRD-compatible treatment, with each type of magic listed, but only one formal school, that of Evocation. A generic treatment for schools is a bit tough, and it may be worthwhile ditching the magic-type based schools and coming up with a small set of my own. Again: setting.
- Looking at Reddit, it would appear that the Ranger is apparently somewhat problematic in 5e as written, and that discussion is important to carry through. I’m inclined to emphasize rangers as scouts and outdoorsmen. Beast-control stuff might make a better fit as a druid multi-class. We shall see.
I’d also like to include a character sheet, derived from the basic one, that includes the concepts added for the project. I can sketch one out myself, but I’m happy to have suggestions.
It was OGL anyway, but I got permission to incorporate Fifth Edition Feats from Total Party Kill games into my work. They have been very encouraging, and I hope to deal with them some more. I’ve had to tweak out some of them, and replace others . . . but editing is almost always easier than starting from scratch.
But that’s really “it,” and once I’m there – though the setting, spell tweaks, and character background/class content are no small set of tasks – that should give me something ready to start with layout (Rob M has a great basic look, we have a wonderful draft cover concept, and I think it’ll look great once it’s done) and put me in a good place to start the machinery around crowdfunding.
And if it’s not going to be ready, most likely, by GenCon, then perhaps it’ll be MetaCon here in the Twin Cities in September (though that’s only a month later). Gamehole Con in Madison might be a better bet!