[Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

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[Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue May 28, 2019 9:32 am

That's right. I've finished my first draft of Lightmaster.

It's going to need a couple of editing passes, to iron out any inconsistencies and to clean up any typos and the like. But it's always a nice feeling to have finished the first draft of a project. It feels like you've reached the top of the mountain of work and it's downhill from here on.

Anyway, here's the documents:

Rulebook
Book of Tables

Any help proofreading these would be greatly appreciated - so give me a shout if you see anything that needs fixing or clarifying!
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Morfie » Tue May 28, 2019 11:53 am

Is it supposed be in UK English? I note the use of Armour.

How long did you spend on this? The Book of Tables is massive! I am not familiar with the original game.

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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue May 28, 2019 12:10 pm

Yes, it's in UK English because I'm British.

It's taken a *lot* of work. Basically, back in 2012 I created Blood, Guts & Glory, which itself has a complex history, but which basically took around 9 months to write.

Lightmaster is a sequel to that game (I call it a "sequel" rather than a "second edition" because it's sufficiently different in both mechanics and default setting), and although it re-uses much of Blood, Guts and Glory it also includes a lot of re-written or new material.

I started work on a second edition of Blood, Guts & Glory last year, but after a couple of months it stalled because I wasn't happy with it.

I then picked up the project again in January this year (on Jan 2nd, just after New Year) with the idea of making it a new game rather than just a second edition, and have been working on it since then.

So we're looking at somewhere between a year and a year and a half's work in total.
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Sturm » Tue May 28, 2019 1:12 pm

Impressive indeed! I only used Merp in the past but hope I will have the chance to play this too eventually :)
The implied setting seem interesting, did Rolemaster too had one?
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue May 28, 2019 1:33 pm

In the core books, Rolemaster had no real default setting at all - probably because it started off as a set of house rules for AD&D replacing the combat and magic systems (which is how the original writers of the game used it).

Once they added their own character creation system and made it into a full game, they took the races and a lot of the monsters from Middle Earth.

Having said that, the adventurers they wrote, which were originally just in a generic fantasy world, were later tied together and expanded into a quite good setting called Shadow World.
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Sturm » Tue May 28, 2019 3:26 pm

Interesting, thanks!
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue May 28, 2019 8:37 pm

Thinking more about Morfie's question on how long I've spent on this, I looked back in my old archived projects to see the way the project has developed and changed over the years.

So, for my own interest more than for anyone else's (it's unlikely to be of interest to anyone else, to be honest), I'm going back and looking at the (alarmingly large) number of iterations, setting changes, and name changes it's gone through..
  • Jun 2010 - Flushed with success after releasing Dark Dungeons, I post a thread here about Combining Rolemaster and D&D, and subsequently spend a week thinking and posting about how I'd do it.
  • Jul 2010 - I think of a setting (Blood Oaths and Thunder Beasts), and think it would be a good fit for the Rolemaster/D&D mash-up.
  • Aug 2010 - I change my mind about the prehistoric setting, and start writing the game as a generic fantasy game called Blood, Guts & Glory.
  • Sep 2010 - I shelve the project indefinitely because I'm working on the second printing of Dark Dungeons and that's taking up all of my time.
  • Jan 2011 - Having finished the Dark Dungeons second printing, I turn my attention back to Blood, Guts, & Glory and start working on the game again.
  • Mar 2011 - In what hindsight tells me can only have been a fit of insanity, I decide I don't like Rolemaster's magic system, so replace it with one cribbed from True20.
  • May 2011 - Work on Blood, Guts & Glory is faltering because it's just a collection of three rule sets mashed together and doesn't have any coherence as an actual game. I decide to put the rules writing on one side and concentrate on a setting for a while instead. I come up with the idea of Britannia Magica - a magical version of Britain during the Roman invasion.
  • Jun 2011 - I shelve the project again, because I've started work on Darker Dungeons.
  • ??? 2011 - I decide that I still like the idea of a D&D/Rolemaster mash-up, but the rules I have (d20 + Rolemaster + True20) aren't going anywhere. Instead, I should use Dark Dungeons as a base and add the Rolemaster combat system to that. I mention this in the intro to Darker Dungeons, calling it Darkest Dungeons and saying it will be the third in the trilogy of games.
  • Nov 2011 - Having finished Darker Dungeons, I start work on Darkest Dungeons.
  • Mar 2012 - I finish the first draft of Darkest Dungeons, but I'm not happy with it.
  • Apr 2012 - I have an epiphany! (same link as above, but further down the thread.) The bits of Darkest Dungeons that I don't like are the bits of Blood, Guts & Glory that I did like; so I mash together the two iterations of the game.
  • Jul 2012 - Having almost finished the game, and added a new setting to it (post-apocalyptic Elizabethan London with anthropomorphic animals) I revert the name back to Blood, Guts & Glory.
  • Oct 2012 - I finish Blood, Guts & Glory and release it on an unsuspecting (well, not that unsuspecting - I'd been talking about it for two years at this point) world.
  • Feb 2018 - I decide that while Blood, Guts & Glory is a fine game, it could be improved, so I start work on a sequel that will have a new setting (the Elizabethan one was making the game be unfairly dismissed as "a furry game") and improved rules. Although I don't mention it in public, I create a project for the game and call it Flintlock Fantasy, because I'm introducing Dark Dungeons style "Red Powder" to the game too. the style and layout of the game is still very similar to Blood, Guts & Glory, it's just that the rules are being updated.
  • Mar 2018 - Having ported most of the game to the new project, I get distracted by other projects and Flintlock Fantasy gets shelved without anyone other than myself ever hearing of it.
  • Dec 2018 - Over the Xmas holiday I read about a game called "Against the Darkmaster", a MERP retroclone with a really clever title that works both in-setting (you're fighting against a dark master) and as a pun on Rolemaster to remind everyone about the origins of the game. I muse about what other puns on the name of Rolemaster could work and the name Lightmaster occurs to me. That's clearly a pun on being similar to Rolemaster but with lighter rules, but what in-setting meaning could it have? I realise that Dark Dungeons' "Sails of Skysailing" could easily be named "Lightmaster Sails" if their description is tweaked to say that they sail along the light between planets and stars.
  • Jan 2019 - On New Year's Day I'm busy, but the following day I create a new project called Lightmaster and start transferring text across from Flintlock Fantasy, updating it as I go and using a very different layout and style to emphasise that this is a new game, not just a new edition of Blood, Guts & Glory. I now have a firm vision of the setting - Lightmaster sails, Red Powder, adventuring on other worlds and meeting aliens rather than lots of fantasy races, etc. and this gives me a renewed enthusiasm for the project.
  • Feb 2019 - I announce that I'm working on Lightmaster, and start expanding the scope of the game beyond previous versions.
  • May 2019 - The first draft of Lightmaster is finished!
So putting all that together, I've worked on the game for:
  • Jun 2010-Sep 2010 = 3 Months
  • Jan 2011-Jun 2011 = 5 Months
  • Nov 2011-Oct 2012 = 11 Months
  • Feb 2018-Mar 2018 = 1 Month
  • Jan 2019-May 2019 = 4 months
So it actually turns out that over the course of a huge number of name changes (Blood Oaths and Thunder Beasts -> Blood, Guts & Glory -> Britannia Magica -> Darkest Dungeons -> Blood, Guts & Glory (again!) -> Flintlock Fantasy -> Lightmaster) I've actually been working on this game for a total of 24 months, or two years, spread out over almost a decade.
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed May 29, 2019 12:47 pm

The first few errors fixed:
  • Manticores were mentioned in the intro but didn't have stats
  • The stats for goblins were missing
  • There were extra blank pages after the end of the "Extras" chapter
If anyone finds any other errors, let me know.
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Thu May 30, 2019 8:44 am

It's notoriously difficult to proofread your own work, because you have a habit of reading what you want the text to say rather than what it actually says, and it's really easy to read straight past typos and other mistakes without noticing them. And relying on things like pasting the text into Word for the auto-spellcheck isn't great because it will let through places where the wrong word has been used if that wrong word is spelled correctly.

So I'm doing what I normally do to get around those limitations, and getting Adobe Acrobat to read the text out loud to me. It's far easier to notice errors listening to someone say it than it is when reading it, because the text-to-speech will read exactly what's on the page.

I've done about the first twenty pages so far, and already found (and corrected) at least a dozen minor mistakes.

It's slow going, but I think it's the best way (short of hiring a professional proofreader) of picking up that sort of thing.
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Sturm » Thu May 30, 2019 8:59 am

That's indeed a very useful idea. It's hard indeed to pick up errors by just re-reading a text you have already read..
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:15 pm

The proofreading/editing pass is still going slowly. I'm now up to about page 115 of the main rulebook, so I'm around three quarters of the way through.

Obviously this has picked up lots of minor errors, but I've also picked up a few places where there have been problems in the rules themselves rather than just in the English. Most of these have been where I've changed a rule while developing the game but the text in another chapter still refers to the old rule.
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:40 pm

I've now just spent the morning going through the rulebook sorting out my dashes, minus-signs, and hyphens - making sure I have the right ones in the right context, with or without spaces as appropriate.

Range: (e.g. 1-5 or A-F) = en-Dash with no spaces
Minus Sign: (e.g. -4) = en-Dash with no space between it and the number; with a space before it if in a sentence, but not if in a formula
Work Break: (e.g. re-roll) = hyphen with no spaces
Clause Break: (e.g. here's a thing - and here's another thing) = en-Dash with spaces either side.

(That last one is an example of UK-English vs US-English differences. UK-English uses an en-Dash with spaces, whereas US-English prefers the larger em-Dash but without spaces.)

It's tedious and fiddly to do, but it's needed for consistency.

The good news is that this means I've now finished the first pass of proofreading/editing of the main rule book.

The bad news is that I now have to proofread/edit the Book of Tables. The problem here is that there are over 2,500 spells in there. While most of them just have one or two sentences of descriptive text, that's still quite a lot of text. Worse, I need to make sure everything's consistent. If two spells have the same name, they need to have the same wording; and the wording used for things like ranges and durations needs to be consistent.

I think I'm going to try to automate this as much as possible. If I can copy all the spell paths into Excel, I can sort by name to make spells with the same name appear together for comparison even if they're in completely different parts of the book; and I can sort by duration or range to see if there are any anomalies in either of those. Of course, copying all the spell paths into Excel isn't straightforward because of their formatting. Ironically I need to get Excel to do some wizardry behind the scenes to un-format them as I paste them in (ironically, because I used Excel to format them in the first place!)
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:58 am

I spent hours over the last couple of days cleaning up the Book of Tables.

As I suspected, there was lots of inconsistency there. The main issue was the number of variations of standard things like ranges and durations. I don't mean that there were numeric differences, just that there were differences in the presentation.

For example, I had things like "1 min / lvl", "1 min/lvl", "1 min/level" and "1 minute per level" in different places. Similarly there were differences in names like "Resist +1" and "Resist (+1)" in different parts of the book. It's all small stuff, but fixing it makes the book look so much more professional.

I cleared up at least 500 of these inconsistencies, about half with automated find/replace and about half by hand.

While doing this, I only actually encountered one substantial error - that was that one of the spells still referred to making an attack on the an attack table that doesn't exist any more.

I think I'm pretty much finished now. In the next couple of days I'll replace the "First Draft" PDFs with "Release Candidate" PDFs.

My group are going to be starting a Lightmaster campaign in the next week or two, and although most of the game has already been playtested as Blood, Guts & Glory, it will be a good test that the mechanical changes I've made for this new version all work okay (I'm confident they will, because most of them are mathematically equivalent to their older equivalents; just presented in a more streamlined manner - but it's possible I've screwed something up somewhere and something unexpected will crop up).
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Tim Baker » Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:19 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:58 am
I cleared up at least 500 of these inconsistencies, about half with automated find/replace and about half by hand.
That's super impressive. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to this project. As someone who's done some proofreading of technical documents in the past, I can empathize with you!

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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:51 pm

Well, I've uploaded the PDFs and sent the files to the printers.

Now all I need to do is wait a week or two for my proof copy - and then (assuming it's fine) I can set the product to Public in DriveThruRPG and people can start downloading the finished books and ordering printed copies of them...

I always hate this part. I'm always paranoid that there will be a problem with the printed books and I'll have to fix it and order new proofs.

I don't know why I'm so nervous about it. There's never been a problem with any of my books yet. That doesn't stop me from worrying that this will be the first, though. I must have double-checked at least five times that I'd matched up the internal contents, covers, and page counts correctly.
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Re: [Lightmaster] First Draft Complete!

Post by Tim Baker » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:05 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:51 pm
I don't know why I'm so nervous about it. There's never been a problem with any of my books yet. That doesn't stop me from worrying that this will be the first, though. I must have double-checked at least five times that I'd matched up the internal contents, covers, and page counts correctly.
I'm sure everything will go smoothly. :) Thanks for keeping us posted. I look forward to purchasing the final version on DTRPG soon.

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