I'm posting this tonight so I commit to it.
The v3.2 release is going to be delayed. I hate to do it, because the rule changes are ready to go, I like how they work in play, and I want to get those improvements out there.
But I'm really, really burned out.
Not with the game or anything game related. I'm burned out from my day job. I love working on the game, and it doesn't feel like work at the time, but the reality is layout and editing and writing does take up brain power, and I need time to rest. I took Monday off from work, and I need to use that time to relax completely.
So I'll be playing God of War and walking my dog and painting and doing nothing thinking related.
I don't know when the next release will come. I doubt it will be delayed past the end of May. But for now I'm just going to focus on feeling better.
The next release of the rules is being pushed out one week. There are three main reasons I'm releasing the next version instead of just updating errata:
1) This version will cut the last of the ties with Shadowrun. So it has changes on multiple levels (word choice, mechanics, conceptual). As those changes are made, I need to re-write most of the first chapter and make smaller changes throughout the entire text.
2) This version is aimed at helping people jump into the game easier. That means reorganizing the rulebook to be more digestible and including example worlds for people to use and half-created worlds as a compromise. As I was working on the latter I decided to create 1 fully-fleshed out setting, with multiple factions, city description, and a starting situation with 3 missions. I've finished the rough draft of that, but rather than do a bad version and update it later, I want to take longer to do some refinement and editing.
3) The last rulebook has a lot of typos. That was the result of dyslexia + rushing to release + not getting outside review. If I try to release the update this Monday, it will have just as many if not more typos since I'm still finalizing content for some areas.
On the positive side, the next release will have a significant addition of content. I am trying to avoid the game design trap of trying to do so much nothing gets released for a long time, with also making the next version substantial enough I don't immediately start working on edits after I release it.
The bulk of the non-layout aspects of v3.2 of the rules are finished.
You can see the updated team sheets, updated character sheets, new attitude abilities, and quick-reference rules in this temporary folder.
The reference sheet includes some of the rule changes to using the Feed, operate action replacing the hack action, and the transition from "devil's deal" to the "sell out" mechanic.
Remaining work for v3.2: reorganization of the rulebook; addition of of some example pre-generated worlds and factions; and general rule clarifications/fixes from the errata.
I've started putting together the next version of the rulebook (v 3.2). The new rules have mostly been finished, but reorganization, editing, and layout will take the bulk of the time.
I'm aiming to have the new rulebook out by May 7th.
This is an overview of the planned updates:
Progress has unfortunately been slowed by personal life complications, but luckily I am receiving regular playtesting feedback. With the amount of feedback coming in, I am waiting on releasing an updated rulebook for probably 1 more month so I can make a chunk of significant edits.
Errata & Clarification
In the meantime, I have started a list of common questions and minor updates. I will continue to add to this over the next month based on the most common questions or problems. If you go to "view-->show document outline" it basically has a table of content for quick maneuvering.
I have also created a document with the main rules used in-play in list/bullet point form for easy access. Again, if you go to "view-->show document outline" it basically has a table of content for quick maneuvering. I will eventually format this into easy player handouts, but I wanted to get the content out there as quickly as possible.
The next version of the rulebook will primarily focus on editing, clarification, and small rule tweaks. The biggest change will be to the hacker class. There are significant problems as-written, and it was never fully changed to reflect the break from an assumed technology level or an assumed 3D Matrix style cyberspace. Additionally, I don't want a class that basically amounts to "I hack the thing."
Based on inspiration from feedback, the hacker will be changed into a Virtual Artist class. It will focus on creative virtual manipulation (manipulating information in the feed, manipulating appearance/sounds in the virtual space), innovative technology hacks to make technology do more than originally designed, and also retain some of that hacker attitude.
First, I've been working on adapting the Scum & Villainy character sheet in Roll20 for my game. I looked at the work by Jakob Oesinghaus on the template for adapting the Blades sheet. Right now, that will take too much time to be worth it, since my sheet changes so much. The S&V sheet was actually easier to use. Once Karma is actually stable design wise, I will re-look at using that template.
This current sheet still only covers characters. I will probably add a tab for factions and progress clocks next. I want to get a team sheet, and I'm working on it, but that aspect deviates from S&V and Blades the most, so it will take some time. I would classify my character sheet creation skills as "very amateur", so I'm learning a lot as I go.
Second, I've been putting together a Roll20 group for people to playtest the game. This allows people to find interested players, gives access to a shared discord, links to a spreadsheet for advertising/finding a group, and if people want to use the custom sheet but do not have a pro Roll20 account, they can run a game out of this group and use my access to the pro features.
Third, I've continued to collect feedback from a variety of sources. We've already found several confusing points in the rules and as well as some problems and solutions with other game aspects, like the hacker class. I'm looking for an initial update to the rulebook in mid to late April to incorporate this feedback for the next version. The feedback and audio recordings have been amazingly helpful, and I look forward to continuing this process of play and refine.
As always, I remain extremely grateful to all of the people playing, asking about, and giving feedback for my game. This game will be so much better because of the help of all of y'all.
Brief update since it's been a week.
1) There are a number of typos and layout mistakes that need to be fixed. I am holding off right now because I start playtesting this weekend, and I know that will generate more edits. Will most likely release a cleaned up and tweaked rulebook in about 10 days.
2) I am spending most of my time working on the Roll20 character sheet. One of the main sheet designers for Blades in the Dark released a tutorial on how to adapt his sheet for other hacks. I have been working on editing the first document of about 4. It started at 20 pages, when I cut out the Blades specific material it was around 7 pages, and now I need to fill in the equivalent of everything I cut which will likely exceed 20 pages.
So the sheet will look awesome when done, but will likely take multiples weeks or months to finish.
3) Mr. Johnson, from the awesome Arcology Podcast, interviewed me about the system and will be releasing the podcast soon. I don't think I can bring myself to listen to my own voice (also it was my first time talking about my game) but I will link to it once it goes live. It was fun talking to someone who also loves Shadowrun. It also helped me get better insight into the experience of people who have never played a Forged in the Dark game when they look at Karma.
I am super excited for playtesting. Watching the group brainstorm ideas for their characters is a fresh reminder of why I love TTRPGs, and why I keep working on this game.
Today I released the third draft of the v3.1 rules. No rule changes, just editing for clarity and clearing up blatant mistakes. These changes represent the level of edits I expect over the next month or two. No major rule changes, but continuing to improve clarity for the rules, fix typos and mistakes, and increase examples.
Thanks to an influx of feedback and some time off from work, I went ahead and put together the first update: version 3.1 is now out. This updated the rulebook, character sheets, and special contracts.
New Mechanics: streamlined effect system; overview of the world; defined magic system; defined cyber system
Updates: changed action descriptions, especially engineer and hack; expanded world creation questions; fixed special abilities; improved core mechanics chapter; editing for clarity
The two biggest changes were to the mechanics. First, I streamlined the effect system, so it only requires one step to determine the effect of a roll. You now judge effect based on three possible sources of power: relevance, expertise, and press.
Second, I began to define the world. I tried to keep the narrative to a minimum so people can still create their own world, but the dystopia, magic, and cyberworld all have some themes with related mechanics.
All of the other updates mostly came from these two changes, needing to rework some actions, character abilities, and rule references.
I probably won't change much more without a few weeks of playtesting. I'll aim to update ~once a month, even if it's just fixing typos.
Up next: item list; copy-editing; rework chapter order/ rulebook layout
I said I'd take time off from working on the game. I didn't.
As found on the main webpage, I threw together a basic Roll20 character sheet. The programmer in me wants to hide because of its sloppy coding, but it's functional, so I'll worry about cleaning it up over the next few weeks.
I've already received an influx of feedback from several sources. I'm incredibly humbled by some of the people who read the book and immediately sent back some thoughts.
People ranging from Sean Nittner to my family to people I don't know on reddit provided critiques, comments, and feedback that have already pushed me into the next revision of the game. Critiques are my favorite part of game design, because new eyes and new problems get the creativity going again. I am really, really excited about where the game goes from here.
I am blogging through my ideas/changes on the design blog. Some of the changes will likely be pushed as early as next Monday. This will include the changes to effect factors. The as-written system (look at relevance, then look at effect factors) has always been clunky in my mind, and I want to go ahead and change over to re-writing all of the effect factors so they integrate in a streamlined fashion.
I am also moving away from being a copy of the Shadowrun world (e.g. Matrix cyberspace, metatypes). Whether or not those changes make the next update will depend on how far I get with them and how much I will need to change character special abilities to accommodate them. Laying out character sheets is super tedious to me, so if they need a ton of changes I'll need a few weeks to build up my tolerance for that work again.