The King is Dead

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The King is Dead: Progress Update

Here’s how things currently stand with the playtest materials for The King is Dead:
  • It’s currently at something over 30 pages -- most of which is new – which probably makes it the longest thing I’ve ever written.
  • The introduction is complete (and has been presented on this blog).
  • The setting background/gazetteer section is roughly broken down but needs a lot of work.  The main body of that section is the “Grim, Unpleasant Land” posts that have appeared on this blog, but I’ve realized I need to revise the sections on the Colonies significantly and add more detail about the broader world.  The information on the Colonies has been regrettably 13 Colonies-centric, so I need to add more info about the Caribbean island equivalents and the New Orleans stand-in.  I struggled for a while with a naming scheme for the entire world based off of the goofy pun names for Malleus and Clavus, but I think I’m going to reject that and embrace a more organic approach to the rest of the world.  (For those who haven’t picked it up, “malleus” and “clavus” are Latin for “hammer” and “nail;” the neighboring pseudo-European continent has so far been called “Incus” after the Latin for “anvil,” but I think I might drop that since it leads to words confusingly close to “Inca.”)
  • I haven’t decided whether or not to include that massive recommended viewing list.  Hmm… Maybe I should work specific TV and movie recommendations into the secret society descriptions?
  • The actual character creation section is coming along nicely.  It’s strongly outlined and many sections are complete or nearly complete.  I’ve got a nice breakdown of the steps (it starts with choosing a secret society), a good explanation of the changes to the skills, a guide to how existing Hindrances work in the setting, and some clarification of Edges.  I need to work in some explanation of Arcane Backgrounds, add some new powers, and add in some equipment (which I’ve already started).
  • Ideology/background sections are done for most of the societies are complete; I think the Zunft von Hohenheim is the only one that isn’t.  Unfortunately, due to the insidious darkness in my soul, I wrote a lot of betrayal and distrust into the descriptions, so I think they need some serious revising.  While I do want ideological differences to be a point of contention between the good guys, I don’t want this to be the Old World of Darkness where the heroes are too busy fighting each other to fight the bad guys.  That’s probably why the Zunft is incomplete; I kept writing them as amoral mad scientists in everybody else’s descriptions when in fact they should be progressive science heroes.  Thankfully, those revisions are gestating in my brain right now.
  • I’ve only gotten example characters completed for a couple of societies.  That’s going to be a slog, but I want to provide at least two fully detailed pre-generated characters for each society to give players a good idea of how diverse each society actually is.  It’s recently occurred to me, though, that I should include “wealthy patron” archetypes for the Illuminated and the Circle of Isis, and I’ve already got two good pre-gens for those societies.  Do I dare push the number of pre-gens to 4 per society?   
Would setting fiction be useful in the playtest packet?  I need to flex my fiction muscles if I’m going to persuade Four-in-Hand Games to let me write the accompanying setting fiction for my section of Steamscapes: Asia, and this seems as good a time to practice as any.  I know I’m more likely to complete a story if I have any immediate need for it than I am if it’s “just for practice,” but I’m not sure the playtest packet really needs setting fiction.


  1. Nah, you can leave out the setting fiction. Maybe an in-character paragraph or two to set a certain mood, but that's the most you should include in the packet.

    Now the devil's advocate questions. Considering that it's a playtest document, does it really need to include detailed descriptions of the other nations? Does a playtest packet need to list more than two or three recommended reading/viewing items? If playtest feedback is what you're after, I think simplicity is your friend.