By Rob Heinsoo
The text below is from a 13 True Ways Kickstarter update I posted yesterday. Since it talks about material that will also interest everyone buying 13 True Ways on pre-order or ordering it from their hobby shop, I’m posting the update here as well.
By now most of you will have seen the 13 True Ways PDF, except for those old-fashioned souls who want to wait for the printed book. I know there are some of you because Jonathan is one! Yes, Jonathan Tweet doesn’t want to spoil the surprise by looking at the PDF. Since I handle art and layout and editing communication, Jonathan still doesn’t know what the final book is going to look like, apart from the text, so if you are waiting for the printed book later this summer you have some good company.
Along with the final printed books there are other backer rewards in the works, such as dice and t-shirts and postcards. Those are all at various stages in the production queue, and I can’t predict when they all will be ready.
For now I want to talk about another aspect of 13 True Ways delivery: the other PDFs that are going to show up on your computer in coming months.
We ended the Kickstarter promising a 180-page book. Once we got into the design phase, our labor-of-love approach pushed us up to 256 pages. And because it was a labor of love, Jonathan and I prioritized the things we thought would be the most fun, and held our work to a very high standard. If we felt meh about something, and believed that you would feel meh about it too, it didn’t go in. We ended up delivering on all the stretch goals in the Kickstarter along with all the backer rewards, but some of our ideas in the original 13 True Ways Kickstarter plan didn’t make it into the book.
So here’s what we plan to do about it.
We’re going to finish those pieces properly as part of the upcoming subscription-based 13th Age annual (name to be determined), along the lines of the excellent Ken Writes About Stuff from Pelgrane Press. I should be clear that the we I’m mentioning includes me, but not always the other members of the original 13TW team. Sometimes I’ll be the designer, other times I’ll act as developer with other talented contributors handling the design work. Sometimes we’ll be completing work that I started on 13 True Ways but didn’t finish to my satisfaction.
13TW Kickstarter backers will have two options when the annual goes live:
- You can choose to get only the issues that contain 13 True Ways follow-up content, for free
- You can choose to purchase the entire first 13th Age annual at a discount which covers all of the free content to which you’re entitled, plus a bit extra
Not every month’s installment will contain 13 True Ways follow-up content, and there’s no set schedule about when a particular piece of 13 True Ways follow-up content will be completed. This may stretch out for quite some time, because during the design phase of 13 True Ways we unexpectedly hit on a few things that could serve as the basis for larger books. If they do get turned into books, when those surprises get unveiled we’ll send a related freebie to 13TW backers. Think of this operation as a purchase that keeps on providing surprising micro-rewards.
With that in mind, I’m going to go ahead and list the things that didn’t make it into 13 True Ways and my current thoughts on how they’ll be part of the 13th Age annual subscription, or not.
Appearing in the annual at some point
- Details on forests & woods to make them distinct: This grew into something a bit different than I thought originally.
- More on gladiatorial games: Yeah, there’s some more we can explore here.
- Rules for dragon-riding: I know that a lot of you were really looking forward to this—I was, too—and some of you even backed the project because of it. So I’ll be blunt: so far all the systems we’ve come up with have been worse than no system at all in terms of their impact on the game. I’m not interested in publishing bad systems, and I’m pretty sure you’re not interested in getting them. ASH and I are continuing to work on these rules, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure they get included in the first annual. I can promise that we’re not going to shrug our shoulders and send you something that we think isn’t worth using, just so we can check off a box on our to-do list. We’ll get it to work because I know ASH will kill me if we don’t.
- Illustrated comparisons of the adventurer, champion, and epic tier: We’ll do these, but probably not by Aaron and Lee.
- Some fantastic maps of the overworld and portions of the underworld: Ditto.
- A cutaway map of a typical elven wood: Same.
Partially appearing in the annual after their actual potential is realized in future books
- Racial feats: because they do appear to have a place in the game, but that place may come as a surprise.
- Feats associated with the icons: same story. The obvious mechanics weren’t so good, but there is something interesting hidden behind the idea.
- Stats for the 13 icons themselves: As the game evolved and matured through further development and play, we became increasingly convinced that this was an idea we didn’t want to pursue half-cocked. You can see the care we took detailing the 4 backer-created NPCs in the Gamemasters’ Grimoire chapter of 13TW. In a sense, those NPCs function a bit like mini-icons, and our final approach to this topic may bear some resemblance to the multi-option approach used for the NPCs. But when I say ‘final approach,’ I’m acknowledging that this isn’t something we intend to pursue soon. When we do finally take this path, it’s almost certainly going to be the basis for a book rather than a slice of a different book. In the near-ish future, we will be doing monster-style stats for various servants and followers of the icons. Some of the high-level lieutenants of the icons will find their way into a 13TW-backers update to provide touches of the high-level play people might have been looking for from actual icon stats.
There are also going to be surprise backer freebies along the way, some of which expand on ideas that made it into 13TW.
That’s all I’ve got for now. We’ll be in touch about the annual’s start date and other details once we’ve built the plan out further, probably before or around GenCon.
Yours in the whirl,
Lead Designer, Fire Opal Media