Sunday, January 28, 2018

Updates with Details

Hey, everybody! I missed you all!

Since John updated you all about health stuff last time, and neither you nor I care about adding detail, let's talk about what's up with Hero's Journey instead! Accidental debilitation aside, we still worked in the interim and progress was arrested but not stopped. Onward we march.

Here's what happened during the break:

We Finally Fixed Brawn

I know. We keep saying "hooray, fixed a subsystem" and then later we say it again. But seriously, Brawn was underperforming in playtesting, specifically being less of a good value than its cousin Mettle, and players kept having conceptual problems with feeling it should be able to be applied to more physical actions. In addition, it had a lot of annoying tables attached to it for things like how much weight a Hero could lift or how hard a thing had to be before they couldn't break it anymore, which are now happily phased out so no one has to look all that nonsense up every ten minutes. Brawn is now attached to difficulties set by Destiny (like most other rolls) and can be used for a larger variety of physical pursuits, where having more raw strength or force should be able to increase the odds of success. Rejoicy, brawny Heroes!

We Made Archetypes More Carrot, Less Stick

A while ago we said that we fixed Archetypes, and we did! But while they had a "stick" component - do not do these things, or you won't be upholding your Archetype and there will be negative consequences - they needed a better "carrot" component to reward you when you did succeed at those things. So now there are some sweet, sweet XP rewards, and less confusion over when a Hero is and is not living up to their Archetypal role.

We Fixed Legacy Rules About Resists

It used to be that you had to spend a Chapter Labor to activate your resistance stats (Determination, Enlightenment, Willpower) for the Episode; this was a legacy rule from the dawn of time when contention didn't exist, designed to even the playing field so that Heroes using powers on one another weren't at a disadvantage when their targets got to resist for free. Obviously, that doesn't apply anymore, so we've been marathoning all mentions and related systems to make sure it gets properly scrubbed from the game. Resists are free, and no one can take them from you.

We Consolidated Penalties From Various Sources

There were a lot of penalty systems in the first draft of this game - distraction penalties, exhaustion penalties, food/drink penalties, pain penalties, strain penalties... too many penalties, basically, and half of them were doing different things and had slightly different effects. So we eliminated some, combined others so they wouldn't be spread out everywhere, and evened them out so that they all use the unified Penalty/Bonus system that the Blessings use. Rejoice, there will be so much less looking up of things.

Astute readers will notice that this is a parade of little mechanical tweaks, and there's a reason for that - we're in the midst of our go-over of the entire system, making sure that any old rules get phased out, that any outstanding issues get resolved, and that anything that has proven clunky in playtests gets cleaned up. This is exciting because it's one of the last things we have left to do; it doesn't feel like we're almost done and of course there are other things left, but when we're finished with this bit, the system will be done. Done forever. No more tweaks allowed. If you see John heading toward a mathematical construct with that gleam of innovation in his eye after this point, shoot him. It's the only way he'll learn.

In fact, here, this is what our remaining to-do list for finishing the game looks like:

1: Complete the Mechanics Pass
Currently, we've covered the first 3.5/6 chapters, which represents the stuff you see above. Still remaining is the second half of the play chapter, the entire saga design chapter, and the Blessings chapter. The first two will be more likely to yield changes and fixes; the Blessings chapter is basically just powers, which have to be gone over to make sure they don't reference or use legacy mechanics but should otherwise be mostly self-sufficient.

2: Complete the Appendix
The appendix is short and sweet, so this will mostly involve statting up NPCs and sample creatures for folks to use in their games, providing tables of random events or specific game mechanics that select from a range of options, and making sure maps are up to date.

3: Fix Outstanding Blessings
The vast majority of Blessings are completed and testing just fine, but there are a few that have to be replaced - either they were based on mechanics we changed in our editing pass and don't make sense or work quite right anymore, or in testing they turned out not to be as great as we hoped and they need a few adjustments to make players happier. I don't have the exact number of outstanding Blessings in front of me, but my estimate from last time I looked at the file is something like 15-20 - so not chump change, but not a huge number, either!

4: Update Devotionals
Devotional powers for each pantheon have some of the same issues - they need rewrites where they were using legacy mechanics, and because they were more audacious than regular Blessings, they had more kinks to work out from playtesting. This is the part that will probably take us the longest, but we've had lots of help from our consultants (thanks, Tanay and Elizabeth!) and we'll keep you updated about it as it goes along.

5: Blessing Rewrites
This part is just totally on me - right now, Blessings are written in what we think of as the "old style", a prose-descriptive style that is fun to read but can be hard to pick mechanics out of and takes up a lot of page space. They're getting rewritten to a more streamlined, easy-to-read format, which is entirely on me and will be ongoing as soon as the outstanding ones in #3 are completed.

And y'all... that's it. Obviously, you're all still waiting so I don't expect any celebration on your end, but we're feeling the renewed determination of seeing the end of the tunnel, so I wanted to share it with you, too. Questions and suggestions in the comments, and regular blog posts will hopefully resume from now on!


  1. So, when you say that 15 - 20 Blessings remain do you mean at the Mortal Tier, or all three Tiers?

    In case Divine Blessings are included, could we get some spoilers on those please? I'm very interested to know what kind of things Gods are capable of doing in HJ.

    Either way, it's good to have you back Anne :)

    1. Thats just mortal. And its down to 8 now. Obviously those are playtesting and we'll see how it goes. But almost done.

      And thats just mortal. Wanna get those done and a pdf of all of mormtal out asap.

  2. -cocks shotgun- Try it John, just tell me, do you feel lucky

    1. I always feel lucky. Its a genetic trait


  3. Glad you're feeling a bit better Anne, glad the light is coming from the end of the tunnel.

  4. I'm glad you're feeling better, and that you're still making progress. I really believe in this game.

    But I'd like to know what happened to the pdf you promised you'll send us two years ago, back in April 2016. Here :
    Is it still happening? Will we ever get that pdf? I don't think it needs to be perfectly balanced if you're gonna send the perfect product afterwards as the complete book, the pdf could easily be a way to reassure the backers and maybe lure them back to the project.

    Or why not release the Call to Adventure? If it's a starter kit, it's also a great way to raise interest again.

    Please understand, I'm not trying to diss on the game or your work, I know HJ will likely be fantastic, I'm just trying to understand why compromises can't be made.

    1. Hello, great question.
      PDF and releasing call to adventure first have mostly the same problems(that we didnt forsee when we said we could do pdf). As we have semi-volunteers(basically volunteers) as our layout and pdf people, we have to be careful using their time and good will.

      We started on the PDF, and it just started taking forever, and then we realized we could be finishing the game with that time.

      Everyone will have a pdf in hand before the book goes off to print though.

  5. I just worry that we heard "we're nearly there" almost 3 years ago. And obviously that wasn't right. So how can we be sure it's right this time?

    1. Right? I donnt mean that flippantly at all. We are completely shit at guessing and estimating. We only call it like we see it.

  6. Welcome back to Anne - hope you are feeling better. A question has come to me regarding the peeks we've had so far - are there skills in HJ? Do you have "Driving", or "Artist", or "Computer Programming" or "Acrobatics", or similar skills for characters? Or is the intent to simulate skills through blessings, devotions, and so on?

    1. I can field this one at least :) There are no 'stats' for /doing/ things beyond the Aspects and Talents. All Heroic Action falls under the purview of one of the twenty-one active Talents... the examples you gave would be handled by rolls of Trickster+Streetwise (to generally operate or control a vehicle) or Hunter+Pursuit (for a car chase); Creator+Vision (for designing new artwork) Creator+Art (for actually making art); Creator+Vision (for writing and designing new code) or Trickster+Streetwise (for manipulating existing Computer systems); and Warrior+Athletics (for standard Acrobatic feats) or Hunter+Naturalism/Trickster+Streetwise (for acrobatically moving through natural/man-made terrain). :)

    2. Hmm...I'm not thrilled with that. It seems too general; anyone with Trickster+Streetwise can drive a car in combat, even if they wouldn't normally know how; anyone with Creator+Vision can write computer code, even f it's not their profession; there's too much accent on "divine talent" and none on "what does your character do in their real life?" Maybe that's deliberate - but I'm kind of a skill-oriented player.

    3. Then Snit, why not just add some difficulty to the test? Yeah, they are divine-boosted heroes, but you could always either raise the difficulty for Creators who barely touch a computer. I personally wouldn't because I like the idea that their own powers surprise them, but this sounds like something a GM could just homerules.

      Although the Trickster+Streewise roll for car combat really sounds to me like it should be quite a difficult roll to start with... But why not?

    4. To quote directly from the stats post a few weeks ago:

      "These stats are rolled against a difficulty, for most actions - that is, Destiny will determine that the Heroes need a 6 or better to notice this sneaky ghost or to successfully disarm this bomb, letting different tasks be flexible on roll requirements depending on how difficult a task should be and how good at it the Heroes probably are."

      So, if you feel that a Hero who has Streetwise for his having grown up on the streets but who's never ridden a car in her life should not be able to drive a car in combat, then feel free to set the difficulty accordingly, as EvilMarmalade suggested above :) HJ is hardly the only game with stats that have wide applicability... It is not unusual to see games that have a single skill governing all melee combat, or all ranged combat, or all athletic pursuits... So you have master swordsmen who can randomly pick up a spear one day, pistol wielding cowboys who are also Zen archers, and long distance marathon runners who can do Olympics level gymnastics... Games approximate skills... They have to, or you'd have to have each core book ship with an encyclopedia worth of skills, or they'd have to let you define your own narrow skills (which admittedly some do) :) in other cases I think you'll just have to work with your players to determine what the stats they have actually mean in character terms :)

    5. Hey purple snit. I know what you're talking about and I think we're just coming from different places on this point.

      HJ stats are about what your hero's role is in the story. Your stats represent the sort of actions you'll do that will have an influence on the story.

      Ive played many systems like you're describing before and they also have their difficulties. Players want to make sure their character has as many backgrounds as possible. Or the player who made a younger character doesnt have as many skills. Or players have to spend time figuring out and justifying every stat choice.

      You can have never fought a day in your life. But when Ares comes down and tells you to fight for him, you instantly know how. (if you want to be a champion, obviously not every hero of Ares does).

    6. Weel, as I have said before, once the whole picture is visible, it may look different. But does this mean that all characters are created as semi-divinity right from the start? Because I don't see it as possible to make mortals using the larger-than-life mechanics discussed so far.

  7. Hey sorry you have been so unwell and hope things getting better! Do update over on Kickstarter as well though as it's easy to miss updates on the blog. Really hope 2018 is better for you both x

    1. That is smart. Will get on that asap, thanks for the reminder and well wishes :) Our fingers are crossed for 2018 as well