Just a quick note on some behind-the-scenes stuff that’s exciting to me.
First, I’ve nearly completed one of my Styðya-tier backer character sheets and illustrations. Michael Clarke made this 5e version of the Dragon Heresy character sheet for me, and Rick Troula provided the illustration for this particular backer. I’m quite pleased with how it’s all turning out.
The Berserker class was compelling enough, along with the Path of Lausatok, my grappling-centric option, that the backer chose it from the preview of Dragon Heresy I sent him. Obviously this makes me happy. The illustration came out pretty well, too, and met the backer’s – who also happens to be my Viking Martial Arts instructor – requirements for historical verisimilitude and quality. So neat stuff. The character as written is not a Dragon Heresy character, though – it’s pure 5e, if a bit of homebrew.
The second thing I have been doing for the last few days has been brushing up my InDesign skills. Michael (of character sheet fame) also is my guy for graphic design and layout, and he provided me with a wonderful template that will form the basis of both the Introductory Set when it comes out, and the full three-volume kit as soon as I can afford the artwork.
But I’d been having endless trouble with the import from Word to InDesign, and over the last few days, I figured out why.
I was originally getting imports like this:
Where all of my not-intended-for-use Styles that I have in my Word master file were coming through, even though I thought I was replacing them with the Paragraph styles provided by Michael. After some frustrating poking, I realized my error, and the workflow – the same workflow – that was giving me the crap above instead gave me this:
This still isn’t quite right – the Chapter Title needs some manual work as it has special graphics. And it also got me this:
The problem here is that Actions in Combat is a Section Title, which is supposed to break across columns. Even though I set it that way in the style, it wasn’t working. Turns out that you have to manually put in a fresh page, then use a single text frame that you manually split into two columns instead of two threaded frames. When you then manually thread the frames, you get this:
From there, it was a matter of learning how to, again, manually manipulate tables. From everyone I’ve talked to, this is just tedious work, and takes a long time. So be it. I can do tedium.
So I did, and with a bit of playing around, I got first to good tables, then good Chapter Titles, and then also nice flow with placeholder art.
This was just a test, and I need now to get back to work editing The Book of Deeds (115,000 words) and chopping up the existing pre-edits (edited by me, but fully by a pro) of Heroes and Foes, both of which total about 300,000 words now. The goal for me is to get down to less than 256 pages/141,000 words for the Introductory Set. I was shooting for closer to 208 pages/114,000 words, and I still am, but my preliminary hack at Heroes and Foes is that long by itself (140K words), but that’s only cutting the easy stuff (hey! Level 4+ spells? Not needed! Power-ups for Level 6+? Gone! Cut out some races and some classes! Now . . . hrm.)
But when all is said and done, I want a one-volume intro that’s playable by itself, and will support The Hunted Lands as a “welcome to Dragon Heresy, go enjoy Etera” mini-setting.
There’s still a lot of “Ken’s Three Rules of Not Sucking” lessons to apply in Deeds. I’m sure a real editor will find even more when it comes time.
But that requires more money than I have right now (a volume this big is in the neighborhood of $8-15K for a full edit). The full manuscript will lay out north of 760 pages, and at my usual all-in rate for production values, that’s something like $115,000. Obviously I can find ways to economize here, and will need to. And that does include printing and shipping. So it’s an all-in cost, but a bit one.
In any case, I’m happy with my layout progress, and that is one of the places I can now economize, as I can do the prelim work myself, thanks to Michael’s excellent template.