Friday, May 17, 2013

Dwimmermount Update 53 - Scaling the Mountain (and Adventuring Dark & Deep in the Domains of War ;)

What's the status of the Dwimmermount project?

We are making the final approach to the mountaintop. We've:

-sent the drafts, discount codes, and sample layout to backers by individual email
-taken stock of the Dwimmermount material, including drafts, illustrations, maps, and Grognardia posts assembled our team for the remaining stages of editing, development, and layout
-pinned down our best options for printing and the timeline required
-gained play experience with prototypes of the mega-dungeon tracker and vinyl wilderness map
-received further design input and assistance from James Maliszewski
-made some conceptual breakthroughs into how to publish a mega-dungeon
-set up an internal schedule of conference calls and deadlines

We are on track to have the Labyrinth Lord version of Dwimmermount available for backers to pick up at Gen Con this summer and the Adventurer Conqueror King System version in time for this year's holiday season. With the support of our backers and a lot of perseverance, this project is really starting to take shape. It's an exciting thing to be part of!

Individual Backer Emails

At this point, all backers should have received an email at the address you used to register with Kickstarter and/or the address you gave us in the reward survey. In some cases, you may have received it three or more different times over the last three days, perhaps from three separate email addresses! Updating the backer spreadsheet was straightforward, but using it to do a mail merge with Gmail proved to be a different matter.

If you didn't get the email, please let us know at support@autarch.co. Here's what to look for in your mailbox:

The title of the email was: Your Dwimmermount coupons and downloads from Autarch
Email batches were sent on 5/14, 5/15, and 5/16.
The sender was always Tavis Allison, but when unexpected repeat emails ran up against Gmail's limit of messages sent per day I used my email accounts tavis.allison@gmail.com, barnar.hammerhand@gmail.com, and tavis@adventuringparties.com.
Please check your spam folder; the message contained a number of links.
Don't hesitate to reply with COUPOFF (or send a message with this subject line to support@autarch.co) if you don't want to receive further emails as new opportunities to use your discount coupons become available.

Other Worthy Mountaineers

Thanks to a crossover bonus goal with Joseph Bloch's first Kickstarter for Adventures Dark and Deep, Dwimmermount backers received an adventure, The Treasure of Welthorp, providing a unique side trek to which a map found in the Laboratory might lead.

If you enjoyed the new classes, spells, and systems showcased inthis adventure, you'll be glad to know that the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary is using Kickstarter to publish the final piece in BRW Games' fascinating exploration of the question "What would AD&D have looked like if Gary Gygax had stayed at TSR in 1985?". The project is already funded, so (given Joe's excellent record with Kickstarter) you can be sure of getting 900 creatures to use in your game, including almost all those from the original three monster books, finally collected in a single volume, plus scores of new creatures. Your pledge now will help provide illustrations for as many of these bestiary entries as possible. The campaign closes on Saturday, June 1st; as a backer, I'm hoping we reach the $24,000 needed to see each one of them come to life on the page.

Another Kickstarter with ties to Dwimmermount, Domains at War, is also ending soon; its campaign wraps up the afternoon of this Saturday, May 18th. Like the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary, Domains at War is also fully funded and usable in any of the systems you're likely to be playing Dwimmermount with. If you're planning to use one of your Autarch discount coupons toward the Domains at War, your pledge will help create more resources for mass combat in your game. The next bonus goal is an Old School Scenario Pack, including a new way to use the wilderness vinyl map you may be getting as one of your Dwimmermount rewards.

Domains at War features in one of the conceptual breakthroughs mentioned above. Re-reading the Dwimmermount session summaries from Grognardia, a central theme in the original campaign started to look like a nail that the tools for strategic campaign play provided by D@W could really hammer home.

During the adventures of the Fortune's Fools, they learned that part of their enemies' scheme to to lower the arcane barrier that prevents access to Dwimmermount's deepest secrets involved gaining control of a ley line nexus at the Temple of the Moon. Although James took this idea in a different direction in his drafts, the original concept was that Dwimmermount's arcane barrier was related to the convergence of energies from a number of these nexuses in the nearby wilderness. In the final session summaries, it becomes clear that these sites will become the focus of a conflict between the forces of Law, the fifth column of Termaxian cultists in their midst, and an invasion force from the Thulian successor state of Volmar which may be marching overland as well as emerging from within the mega-dungeon's House of Portals. It is hard to imagine a more perfect set-up for the kind of wide-scale struggle that Domains at War is designed to bring to the tabletop.

Backing the Domains at War Kickstarter isn't necessary to unlock this aspect of Dwimmermount. You can wait until the complete mass-combat supplement is in stores, or use the Free Starter Edition to allow players to command armies, build fortifications, lay sieges, and lead heroic forays in the campaign to bring down (or keep up) the arcane barrier. However, this will will need to wait for the Adventurer Conqueror King System version of Dwimmermount. The assumptions about the equation of personal power and political power on which ACKS and Domains at War rely are at odds with the situation described by James' Labyrinth Lord stats for the settlements surrounding his mega-dungeon. It will certainly be possible to use D@W to play out military campaigns using the setting as presented in his drafts, but as long as we're committed to an ACKS conversion in any case it makes sense for us to focus on developing D@W options specifically for that version.

New Team Members

Logan Knight's winning map in the Tomb of the Rocketmen contest is so amazing that it's hard to believe it was his first foray into cartography. I'm glad to say that he and his collaborator Rose will be contributing the cross-sectional map of Dwimmermount that will be a key insert into the mega-dungeon tracker and create some eye-dazzling two-page spreads within the hardcover and PDF. The sheer scope of Dwimmermount means that this cross-section won't be able to accomodate the same degree of three-dimensionality as the Tomb, but I'm nevertheless very excited to see what Logan and Rose come up with. Their blog, Last Gasp, is well worth checking out but not safe for work.

Jonathan Bolding is an editor at The Escapist and a backer whose epic Dwimmermount campaign stretched over more than 50 sessions and delved all the way to the City of the Ancients. I am grateful to add his expertise to the development team, and his assistance is going to be invaluable as we realizing the vision that's emerged from our recent re-reading of the Dwimmermount drafts and Grognardia posts and been clarified through new emails from James.

Timeline and Internal Scheduling

Jon and I will be having weekly conference calls with editor Matthew Pook as we prepare the Labyrinth Lord manuscript for publication. There are three months until we will have that hardcover to backers at Gen Con and mail it to those who want the LL version but can't make it to Indianapolis. The last of these months will be devoted to printing and shipping, and Richard Iorio will be doing layout of the text in the second month, so we'll be staying on top of the remaining work of development, editing, and proofreading during four of these morning conference calls. I'll plan to do these backer updates on those afternoons so as to combine the work of summarizing our internal discussion and keeping you informed on our progress.

We have seven months to deliver the Adventurer Conqueror King System version. One of the things I'll do with this time is to continue the Harlem Dwimmermount campaign whose early sessions suggested some of the other conceptual breakthroughs I won't be able to fit in this update. My plan is to run weekly sessions both here in NYC (dates to be determined) and online via G+. The first of these hangout games will take place next Thursday, May 23rd, at 8 pm Eastern Daylight Time. If you're interested in playing, use the character builder at the Autarch site to have a set of stats emailed to you, then forward them to me at tavis@autarch.co. Should we have more potential players than G+'s bandwidth will allow, I'll let the dice choose from the emails I've received by the night of Monday the 20th.

Thanks for making this project possible, and I look forward to sharing the fruits of all the hard work that's gone into it - especially since some of that work is the awesome kind that involves playing games with old friends and new.

(as an aside, I will probably be joining Tavis in either the face to face group or the G+ group. I rarely get a chance to play as a player these days. besides, I've experienced Tavis' DM'ing skills first hand - he's top notch. oh, and if you like OSR style Monster Books, the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary should be top notch. the fact that Joe Block is an all around nice guy doesn't even factor into the equation ;)

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