How’s it going, Delvers? Long time no talk but that’s all on me. What can I say? It’s been a busy few months. On the day job front, it’s been busy working on various projects both game design and mapping. This includes the launch of Paizo’s Flip-Tiles. I’ve been campaigning to change the form and functions of our modular mapping line (formerly the GameMastery and Pathfinder Map Pack) to something easier to use and sensibly expandable. I talk a bit about that and introduce the product in this blog. I’ll be writing one a little later talking more in-depth about the history, design, and goals of this product. That will be a total game-wonk blog getting into the nuts and bolts our mapping lines, so most of you’ll love it.
Of course, while the launch of Flip-Tiles and development of the ever-expanding (and very successful) Flip-Mats line has taken a lot of time and brain-space, it’s not all I have been up to. I have a bad habit of taking up freelance projects that I just can’t turn down. High on those lists in the last year are some projects for Schwalb Entertainment’s Shadow of the Demon Lord (notably this and this product) and a Starfinder Adventure Path adventure, titled “The Thirteenth Gate.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve been working on Delve and Clash (and redesigning significant parts of Clash after some challenges popped up during playtesting), oh, and I fell in love, which is very fulfilling, but often very time-consuming. It’s been a bit since I’ve been a boyfriend, but I’m killing it. It’s fulfilling work. I shit you not; I’ve changed two tires in the last six months. Thanks, Ma, for making me do it the first time all those years ago. It’s an important life skill.
And, of course, there have been shows and events. While 2017 was a garbage year for most of my friends, the conventions alone made the year worthwhile. I got to spend a lot of time chatting with Rob Schwalb about game design, philosophy, and life. I ran great games, met awesome people, and drank copious amounts of alcohol. I was also astounded by the various reports of harassment at conventions. Friends were involved. Hard, but necessary words were said. Gnashing of teeth was had by all. Here it is kids, pure and simple: Treat people with respect. Get your twisted libido in check. Dump the shitty parts of your ego, walk quickly away, and don’t look back. I know I make it sound simple, mileage may vary, but it will pay dividends.
But it’s a new fucking year, and the future is not written, so let’s cautiously move on. Over this time I’ve been working on Delve in preparation for the new convention season. Yes, I will be in PaizoCon. Yes, I will be at Gen Con. Those are givens. But shortly, I’m happy to say I’m returning to Gary Con as an honored guest to celebrate its 10th year. I’ll be running the newest version of Delve, with a new adventure titled The Nessrin Crypts, which is even more delve-y than previous adventures, and some Pathfinder events for charity at the show. Those should be crazy. Contributions to the charity are story based, where either the players or those participating in the audience can bid on the story’s direction and can aid (or harm) characters and villains during play. It’s going to be wacky. Along with Jason Bulmahn, I’ll be participating in the Pathfinder seminar, and I’ll be joining Skip and Penny Williams for a seminar on GM advice. I’m looking forward to that one – it’s going to be fun and maybe contentious. Skip and I used to have some fun knock-down-drag-out arguments during the D&D 3.5 revisions, we are both people of strong opinion. While I have never had one of those with Penny, I can only imagine that putting up with Skip for so long involves some amount of fantastic arguments, and by all accounts, Penny is formidable. Oh, and I like to shock people. It’s a small but beautiful vice.
Right after the show, I’m heading to Reno for GAMA. Over the course of my career, I’ve been able to avoid this show, but this year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine and necessary show, but trade shows are not my gig. Nevada is not my scene. Gambling and faux glitz annoy the fuck out of me. I’ll be hawking wares all week for Paizo, but I could be talked into an evening game of Delve in some corner of the event with some good friends new and old.After that, my convention plans become a bit hazier, but I fully expect to do some traveling this year, so stay tuned.
So what kind of changes can you see for Delve in 2018? Well, I’m still picking away at the Proto—what I’m calling the group of wide-spread playtest documents for the game. I will likely launch these on some digital online distributors and start a Patreon tied to direct playtest feedback, development discussions, and early sneak peeks of changes and new rules until I can decide if the game has legs and the critical mass to pull the trigger on a Kickstarter. I would like to get all of that done this year, but the jury is still out. If you played Delve last year, you would find the newest version of the rules is all about refinement. I’ve simplified reactions a bit with the introduction of a “risky” element. I’ve converted Healing to Essence, which is a stat that ties your character to itemization and powerful magical effects (notably how much healing your body can withstand—life-giving energy is potent!), and I’ve fully overhauled itemization. I’ve fleshed out more of the Gray Coast (the playtest mini-setting) written a new adventure, and I’ve done some preliminary design on some new classes (notably the troubadour, templar, and gunslinger) and new races (the wyrdwood, gnome, and orc). I’m working on downtime, the carousing deck, and a system for localized influence during downtime play. I’ve also been working on the cosmology, fleshing out the Empire of Vold (the extra-dimensional human empire that serves as the glue to the various Delve multiverse, and pondering custom dice solutions to design challenges.
In short, it’s going to be an interesting year with some innovations (and possible rabbit-holes) for the game. The same goes for Clash, but my work on that game will be a bit haphazard for the short term. But I’ll write more on that later.
So stay tuned. I will do my best to be more communities, and I hope to see or hear from most of you in 2018!