Happy Friday, everyone. I thought I would spend some time today to outline my plans for the Delve Roleplaying Game.
I’m hoping and working hard to have the first slate of Delve releases this Fall, and I’m very excited to get this thing out the door and in your hands. The first slate of Delve RPG offerings will be released as PDF, though there is the possibility for print-on-demand releases as well. This group of releases is called the Proto. While they are a bit more than your typical playtest document. I’ve been playtesting and adjusting this game for the past five or so years. Still, this group of products is created to have those of you who are interested in playing the game something to enjoy and provide feedback before I move on to the next step of the project, be it Kickstarter or some other method toward a more traditional publishing release.
There are several reasons to do this. First and foremost, as you may or may not be aware, it costs money to make a game. Art costs money, time costs money, all of the peripheries cost money and time (which, as the cliché points out, is money). And while the Delve Patreon has raised a fair amount of money for the game, all of that money has gone into artwork. While I, and many of the folks who have played the game, believe in it, it takes more than just belief. The Proto is a way to make some money for the game while gathering feedback for later Proto projects and the next step of the game.
Secondly, I enjoy making games that people live in. What does that mean? It means that the game is a bit more than a shiny book that gets flipped through and put on a shelf. I really enjoy making games that people want to play over and over again. While Delve, at this point, is a mediation on two decades of game design, I want to make sure it hits that “lived in” critical mass. The Proto is designed not only for you to play but also to assess how to move the project forward.
So what is the Proto? It’s a healthy sliver of the game. Levels 1-5, starting out with three people (the term I’m using for race/ancestry) and four classes, at least during its first wave. It’s the basis of the game that everything else, from the later waves to expanding the level system, has at its base. It’s the roots of the system.
What does the first wave of the Proto entail? Well, it’s five products. There are four class-focused products made for players wanting to try the game and a single “Complete” product that features all that information and tools for gamemasters. Let me break it down.
Each class-focused Proto offerings features seven chapters: Start, People, Class, Talent, Gear, Story, and Play.
The Start chapter is precisely that. It explains the basic rules and structure of the game, providing the most basic information that you need to play Delve. The People chapter is a guide to the first four released with the game—dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans.
The Class chapter depends on which offering you pick. The first four offerings provide only one of these classes, while the Delve Proto Complete features all four initial class offerings.
While other chapters have talents for the game, the Talent chapter provides those talents that anyone can take and a host of talents for companions. Basically, it’s all of the talents that every character, no matter their people or class, share.
The Gear chapter is precisely what you would expect. It has arms and armor, adventuring equipment, and so on. It also has rules for specific services, apothecary items, alchemical items, poison, other toxins, and hiring Minions.
The Story chapter pulls it all together. It not only contains a group of questions that help a player flesh out their Hero’s motivations, background, personality, and motivations, it has some information about the structure and assumptions of the Delve Multiverse.
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these and the Delve Proto: Complete.
That’s right. This product is going to be free! It’s there for you to check out Delve, create a rogue or two with one of the people that are in all of the initial five Delve Proto offerings, and see if you like the system. Why the rogue? Creating a rogue is straightforward and full of fun, so it seemed a perfect fit for the free offering.
Except for the Play chapter, which serves as a reference for the rules of play, each of the other chapters provides one of six steps for creating your rogue. Each step is easy, with the chapter providing all the information you need to make an informed decision. Each chapter also provides the choices made by the iconic character featured in that version of the rules. For instance, the Delve Proto: Rogue features Ez Shadowalker, the iconic rogue. Each chapter gives you some insight into the choices that the iconic made during character creation. A copy of their character sheet is featured toward the end of the book. This allows for quick gaming or provides Heros for players who may not want to wallow into the whole character creation matrix of the game. Of course, there are plenty of exciting choices to play within this offering for those who do. Like all of the initial offerings, you have your choice of the initial people (dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans), a host of rogue talents, general talents, a gear to choose from. In the end, you’ll be able to make hundreds of different types of rogues. And the Story chapter provides information on leveling up your rogue and multiclassing (though you’ll have to pick up one of the other Proto offerings if you want to play a multiclass character).
A sneak peek of the current draft of the class is currently available on the Delve Patreon for Delvers.
The priest follows the same format as the rogue but is one of two spellcasting classes in the initial offerings. Servants of the gods, each priest follows a particular religion. Delve Proto: Priest features four sample religions: three of which feature individual gods—Kuthberd, Vindri, and Vyra—while the other features the Seven Regents, a pantheon of dwarven gods. Each religion features its own priest talents and divine spells, only usable by their faithful, and features a host of other priest talents and spells that the faithful of any religion can take.
The rest of the information in the book is precisely what you’ll find in the Proto: Rogue, as it’s all general rules for all classes, but this book also features Doma Doomhammer, the iconic dwarven priest of the Seven Regents, the sample character for this offering, with her character sheet near the back of the book for players who want to try Delve before they make their first character.
The warrior provides that class for the game in the same vein as both the Rogue and the Priest Proto offerings. Whether you want to play a knight in shining (or maybe banged-up) armor, a grizzled sellsword, an ex-tough, a stoic archer, or a flamboyant pistoleer, this class has you covered. Just about any Hero by way of strength of arms and unstoppable gumption is ready to kick some monster butt in this Delve Proto offering.
And just like the other classes, it features one of the Delve Iconics to help illuminate choices and serve as a pre-made character if you want to get in on the action. This iconic is Craw Sharpeyes, the iconic human warrior. Craw is a master of the bow and the blade.
What fantasy game would be complete without the wizard? This offering’s class provides many talents—some of which are truly surprising and magical in their own right, as long as four mastery of spells. Mixing what you would expect from this class with a new take on arcane magic, I think that folks will be both delighted and surprised by the wizard class. Both the wizard and the priest (as well as all the spellcasting classes in Delve) move beyond the Vancian magic system in a way that many of my players have found intriguing and delightful.
The iconic for this book is the halfling Geldon Brightbrow, a wizard fascinated with the power of electricity, and his character is provided for those who want to jump right into arcane mysteries.
The Proto: Complete comes with the rules for character creation and playing the game that the other Proto offerings contain, but has the information for all four people (dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans) as well as all four initial classes (priest, rogue, warrior, and wizard). It also contains four additional chapters: Mastering, Bestiary, Treasury, and Adventure. These chapters give the Delve Master everything they’ll need to create and run a Delve game or campaign.
The Mastery chapter is full of guidelines and advice for running and creating games and campaigns, from how to organize sessions to creating adventures, new talents, spells, items, and monsters, as well as tricks on how to pull on the Heroes’ various plot threads to make them truly the central characters in your adventure plots.
The Bestiary chapter is a massive offer providing more than 200 monsters and villains to stand up against your Heroes in whatever adventures you choose to throw at them. Some of the offerings for this chapter have been unveiled with the Monster Monday offering on the Delve Patreon (available to both the Lurker and the Delver level). This coming Monday, I’ll unleash the cockatrice!
The Treasury is a compendium of various treasures tailor-made to stock adventures with. It also provides information about gems, art items, and various trade goods. It’s basically a companion to the Gear chapter, with treasures above and beyond what Heroes can typically purchase in a large city. It also gives advice for tailoring the Gear chapter if your Heroes don’t have access to large cities in the game you’re running.
Lastly, the Adventure chapter provides a starter adventure for your Delve game—The Crystal Manse. This adventure details a strange event in the city of Nesserin, which involves an ancient family returning from exile, a peculiar manse in status being freed from its magical protections, and the chaos that ensues. This frantic mystery exploration where things get stranger (and more dangerous) the deeper the Heroes reach into the manse. It’s also the starting point of the Wintering in Nesserin campaign, which provides adventures for 1st to 5th level and is fleshed out in future Delve offerings.
Beyond that, the Complete provides all six of the iconic characters (the ones listed above and Brumtha Doomhammer, the iconic dwarven warrior, and Thillion Whitehaven, the elven iconic priest of Vindri) all ready to play if your players just want to jump into the adventure.
These five offerings are just the first wave of Delve Proto offerings. Beyond that, future expansions provide more people and classes for the game, more adventuring and setting content with gazetteers and further adventures for the Deadly Nesserin Winter campaign, along with more advice on creating your own games and campaigns.
As a special treat, today, backers of the Delve Patreon get a sneak peek at the offerings planned for the second wave of the Delve Proto. Delver backers of the Delve Patreon will also get either free or discounted Delve product, but I’m still working out the details and logistics on that. When I have that worked out, the Patrons will be the first to know.