New Year, New Adventures

-January 3rd, 2013

It’s traditional at the death of the old year to reflect on the past. For 12 to Midnight, 2012 can be summed up as the year we finished the revisions for Degrees of Horror AND the world didn’t end. I’d call that a pretty good year.

Now let’s look ahead.

I know y’all want to know when to expect Degrees of Horror. Before writing this I consulted my Magic 8-Ball and it said “Uncertain”. Publishing is a tricky business with a lot of moving parts, even more-so for RPGs which tend to be art-heavy. Publishers have to line up their books well in advance, creating an ever-shifting queue of projects that need editing, art, layout, marketing, and so on. Pinnacle undoubtedly has other games in the works ahead of ours, and they don’t pump books out a revolving door just to meet arbitrary sales quotas. It’s their dedication to quality that makes us so relaxed about having the book in their hands. So yes, the release date is “when it’s ready” and that’s totally cool.

Now that we have that out of the way, what ELSE should you expect from 12 to Midnight? Ed and I have brainstormed many ideas for Degrees of Horror extras- from EVPs to an ETU website. Once the game is released, we’ll see how much interest you have in those game-enhancing goodies. I know many, many people enjoyed the EVPs for Last Rites.

Those are just ideas though. What’s actually on paper is another Pinebox adventure called House on Dale Island. Ed calls it the his “Mt. Everest of haunted house adventures”. That game is completely written and I would expect it to be released a reasonable amount of time after Degrees of Horror.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Ed and I are also in the early stages of writing more Pinebox fiction. We’ve both been making notes and barring any unforeseen complications I’ll probably start my first new short story within the next week.

Beyond that we’ll write the things that you, our fans, want us to write. Please shout out and let us know what you want to see from Pinebox.

December Break

-December 19th, 2012

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m taking a break from the weekly posts through the remainder of the month. It’s a busy time of year, compounded by what seems to be an oncoming cold. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas filled with fun, laughter, and plenty of games! See you in January.

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Class Notes: The View from Here

-November 21st, 2012

There’s a lot I’d like to say right now, but the more time I spend blogging the less time I’m working on Degrees of Horror. Hopefully when it’s returned to Pinnacle I’ll be able to spend more time elaborating on the revision process. For now, I’m still shooting to finish up before the next Class Notes so I need to keep my nose to the grindstone.

The first 8 chapters are pretty much locked in. Ed is still working on the adventure generator, so I’ve skipped ahead to the next chapter– my old nemesis the Plot Points. The best I can say is that when I’m done with this chapter it’s a short downhill ride to the end of the book. For the plot points, my big focus is on slashing the word count and applying revisionist history to early adventures that bubbled up in later ones. In other words, making sure everything is consistent.

In other news, most of you have probably heard about Facebook’s throttling of Page exposure on your timeline. I read an interesting analysis by a social media company claiming that Page status updates that included a hyperlink were less likely to appear in your news feed than ones that didn’t. You’re probably aware that I post a link to every Class Notes on our Facebook page, but I also sometimes post updates that don’t make it here for one reason or another. Saturday I posted a note letting everyone know that I was shutting down our forums and encouraging everyone to post on the Pinnacle forums instead. I see that Saturday’s post (without a link) got twice the page views as the last Class Notes link. So if you’re reading this because you saw a note on Facebook telling you to come check it out, that’s why.

Class Notes: Crunch Time

-November 14th, 2012

In the week since I last wrote, I’ve done so much stuff I can hardly remember. Off the top of my head, I’ve statted out about a dozen archetypes, reviewed all the Edges and Hindrances one last time for consistency, clarified how Jaded, Hardened, and Recovery works with Fear Effects, and generally organized, shuffled, and condensed the first 45 pages of the book.

The goal is to be completely done by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, THIS Thanksgiving weekend. Of course if I can’t make better progress than 43 pages a week then it’ll take me four more weeks instead of one, but past a certain point it should get easier. This last week has been all about the mechanics– largely character creation and setting rules. Soon I should be breaking free to the gazetter and various adventures, which will be a different kind of editing– mostly about making things succinct as possible. Also, I did the last two chapters (66  pages) after Ed stepped back, which means we weren’t leaving things for one another to fix later. With a few small exceptions, those two chapters are already clean.

Anyhow, that’s all for now. It’s crunch time at 12 to Midnight, and I should be editing.

Class Notes: Lap Completed

-November 7th, 2012

As reported Monday night on our Facebook page, I officially reached the end of the manuscript! Yeah me! Mark that as one giant leap closer to being done. Granted, my “sprint to the finish” took 60 days instead of the original 30, but I got a LOT done. Speaking of getting a lot done, does anyone want to guess how I celebrated reaching my goal? If you said “By immediately starting on unfinished business,” then you guessed correctly.

Since reaching the end of the beastiary, I returned to the very first page of the manuscript, where I’d left myself some notes on things to run down. In particular, I took a fresh look at spirit possessions and exorcisms. Possessions are a horror mainstay, and in a game heavily laden with hauntings, seances, and the like it’s important to get it right. In the previous draft, we explained the mechanics of possession in the beastiary under the Ghost entry. As I worked on the entry for demons though, I realized it made more sense to have a unified “possession” mechanic for all creature types.

Then obviously if you’re going to have possessions then you need exorcisms, right? In Degrees of Horror characters can perform exorcisms using their Faith skill or using a rite of exorcism. In the old version each method was reference separately (in separate chapters, no less) with no mention of the other. Now right below the paragraph on possessions I’ve included a corresponding section on exorcisms. It explains the game mechanic in general terms and describes advantages and disadvantages of using Faith versus magic. Finally, it points to the “Rite of Exorcism” in the magic chapter and describes the mechanics of the Faith method.  This will make it way easier for you and your GM than when we had it spread out across the book.

After getting possessions and exorcism tidied up, my next step was to take a fresh look at seances. I would have sworn that we had a big section in the ghost hunting area about seances, but apparently I was wrong. Sooooo, that was my next job. In the process, I had to take into account some of our new Weird Edges– specifically the Psychic Sensitive, Psychic Communicator, and Psychic Channeler. By the time it was done, I’d folded the Psychic Communicator mechanics into the  baseline seance mechanics. From there, Psychic Channeling (renamed from channeler) became a bonus to the basic seance roll and I clarified the Psychic Sensitive. That’s pretty much how revisions to Degrees of Horror are going to go from here on out. Everything is interconnected, so fine tuning one area usually means chasing down two or three other rabbit holes to make sure everything is still in agreement. Honestly, it’s fun.

Finally, I wanted to acknowledge my writing partner’s return to the keyboard. Ed’s teaching workload has lightened up enough that he said he could take care of some our unfinished business. In particular, he is returning to the adventure generator. That chapter has been his “baby” from the very beginning, and those of you familiar with Ed’s adventure generator writing for Reality Blurs will definitely like what he’s doing here.