Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dark•Heritage document progress

Tonight, while listening to a Winamp playlist of the two Red Dead Redemption soundtracks (the original, plus the zombie expansion) I took all the Modern SRD files, jammed them together in OpenOffice and saved it as the new consolidated document. I'd already done some content editing of the individual files, so other than some formating (and I'll need to do more of that than I hoped; OpenOffice really screwed up the formating something fierce) and a few cut and pastes from existing rules documents of my own authorship--and a slight bit of rearranging to get the Arcana feats, classes, spells, etc. merged with the regular ones... the document is done!

That ended up being less painless than I feared, although there's still a lot to do yet to make it presentable.

Sadly, the document is also rather lengthy. Because I took the existing d20 rules and used them word for word as written in many places, they're overly verbose and detailed. This has driven the page count of my (admittedly, still unformatted) document to over 200 pages, which I find appalling, since I never wanted anything so lengthy.

Then again, I could always remove big chunks of it. I don't really need to reprint the combat rules, for instance, or some of the other rules that anyone who's ever played a d20 game of any kind would already know. And the spell list is a very large chunk of all that text. I could refer to it as an external list and cut well over fifty pages out on that section alone. Heck, between that and the combat chapter, that's almost half of the page count!

Then again, the whole point of striving for elegance of presentation was to have all the rules needed for play in one place, whether or not I actually "needed" them or not. And since it was just a cut and paste job, I'm thinking I'll leave them.

Anyway, yeah... I'm just gloating a tiny bit. It feels nice to have as much done as I do today, even though I still have some rather daunting tasks ahead of me to make it something truly playable.


Shane Mangus said...

I am looking forward to seeing it. I am curious, since you are taking the Modern 20 approach, have you taken a look at Grim Tales? If not I suggest you do so before spending a huge amount of time developing something when there might be something else out there that may already be tailor made for you needs. Link:

Joshua said...

I'm familiar with Grim Tales, but I never got around to buying it, so I'm not sure how much it differs from my own d20 Modern + d20 Past approach.

I imagine it would be a similar workload for me either way. Most of what I need from my approach is already in print too; my own, self-authored portions of the document amount to only a handful of pages (relatively speaking) compared to the rules as a whole. The only problem I had was that I had material from the d20 Modern book (with some mostly obvious exclusions, including the Computer Use skill, modern firearms, etc.), some material from d20 Past, which by design is somewhat modular and you're not expected to use all of it in any given campaign, and some material from Urban Arcana (although that was even more selective; mostly it's a few feats, a lot of spells, incantations, and advanced classes.) Then I even borrowed a few things from Unearthed Arcana, and of course my own rewrites of the action point rules, languages, races, and more. Because my assumption is (unlike standard d20 Modern) not necessarily human PCs, I also had to adjust the skill points per level for each class, and a few other minor details.

So, rules of my own writing probably weren't much more than a dozen or so pages, but I had an entire page dedicated just to describing how to pick and choose from the various sourcebooks which rules were in play and which were not and a few pitfalls to look out for because of differences in assumptions between me and standard d20 Modern, etc. I felt that that was turning into an overly clunky thing to use, even though when I started this whole, "I could use d20 Modern to run that!" idea several years ago (after picking up d20 Past) the whole point was that it would be a simpler solution than trying to make D&D itself into a system that worked for my setting.

And, I think it still is. Cutting and pasting from the MSRD and then editing it a little bit, plus carefully reworking some d20 Past content to get past the fact that it was never opened up and added to the MSRD, plus adding a few important bits of my own was still the easiest solution. It just got a little clunky and inelegant in presentation, and I thought I could pull it together into something that was nicer and that it wouldn't be much work to do so. I ended up underestimating the time needed, but not necessarily by a lot.