Eldritch Realms is featured on this week’s Arcane Connection podcast, which is a podcast primarily about the great fantasy RPG Ars Magica. Hosts (and Eldritch Realms co-authors) CJ Romer and Tom Nowell interview me for about half an hour about the game: what it’s like, how we got here, and where it’s headed. Give a listen!
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Here we are at the end of another year. It’s time for me to start communicating more often and in more detail about Eldritch Realms. We have a long way yet to go before we schedule the Kickstarter campaign — I can’t yet predict when that will be — but make no mistake, we have made a lot of progress this year. Read on for details.
When I posted the 2016 year-end update on Eldritch Realms, I mentioned we were working on the magic rules and they were “firming up.” Frankly, I thought writing the magic rules would be a two or three-month job. It’s hasn’t been. If one thing has been consistent, it that’s the design of the magic system has been one step backward followed by two steps forward. That’s the “toil.”
The “trouble” has been Real Life affecting the development team. I chose to find a new job and that took quite a lot of my time and energy in the springtime. Two developers had real-life concerns pressing enough that they’ve had to leave the project entirely. (We’re still on excellent terms and we hope they’ll have the time to contribute as playtesters.) There have been other personal emergencies of lesser magnitude.
Where that leaves us is at least four months behind the schedule I had planned for 2017. We’ll be working on the rough draft of the rules through the end of the calendar year. I’ll take about a month to collate and lightly edit that rough draft, and then the first round of external playtesting will begin in February 2018. Beyond that, I am reluctant to speculate, but I will say we will be ready for a broader playtest in the summer and I’ll be running some playtest sessions at GenCon 2018.
As to the Kickstarter, that will go live when the rules are finished, tested, and I am confident of their quality. I’m managing the project in such a way that the biggest risks of delays is before the Kickstarter goes live. Before I ask backers to contribute money to publishing this game, we at Shewstone Publishing have to convince ourselves that it will be the best game we can make.
Nothing worthwhile comes without difficulty. Thanks for following us through our early ups and downs.
I’m overdue for an update on Eldritch Realms development, so I’ll try to make one that is a bit more substantial. I’m pleased to announce that Eldritch Realms game mechanics will be based on Fate Core!
The design team put a lot of thought into this decision, starting with asking the question, should we use an open game engine or create a new
one from scratch? We looked at several RPG rules engines, some open, and one proprietary. We pretty quickly came to the conclusion that the game will provide a better experience for the players if we base it on an established game engine instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. When we finally get the manuscript finished (remember, 2018 is the target) and launch the Kickstarter, we want our backers to have confidence the game is built on a solid foundation.
You can get a PDF or e-book of Fate Core rules by paying what you want, or you can browse an HTML version of the Fate System Reference Document for free online. To be clear, Eldritch Realms will be a stand-alone game containing everything you need between one set of covers. You will not need a copy of the Fate Core System to play — all the rules will be copied into our rule book, edited to fit our writing style and presentation, with new examples and explanatory text. This is all perfectly legal because Fate Core is licensed under the Open Game License.
Eldritch Realms has taken enough shape that I can start to talk about the production schedule.
The magic rules are firming up. Designing a new magic system out of whole cloth takes time — especially since magic is the centerpiece of this game. I am confident we have a solid foundation in place. Since I have a background with the classic RPG Ars Magica, I want to emphasize that Eldritch Realms‘ magic system is not like Ars Magica. It’s based on the period writings of Renaissance magicians, about whom we know quite a lot (thank you, Mr. Gutenberg!). There are several different styles of magic, which I call “sciences” — used in the archaic sense to mean any organized field of study, not necessarily one as rigorous and formal as what we today call “science.” The three primary sciences are astrology, alchemy, and conjuration. If you want an idea of what a powerful wizard (not a beginning player character!) can do in Eldritch Realms, take a look at Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
The whole year of 2017 will be devoted to development. We’re aiming for a closed, invitation-only alpha playtest in the fall of 2017. After that we will revise, hold more public playtests, and repeat for at least half of 2018. Since I am eager to get a paycheck from this game before I have kids and send them to college, I will do my level best to make sure the Kickstarter to produce this game launches before the end of 2018.