The Eternal Balancing Act

Original Image by: Zoe Dauser

Group: Abandoned Louisiana

Tonight was spent aligning Magic, Psychic, and Weapon abilities, ensuring their descriptions fell into the current rule set, and tweaking abilities to refine their effectiveness and viability as mechanics within the Tortured Earth multiverse. Although this part of the editing process is tedious, it is also refreshing.

A majority of the mechanical errors and inconsistencies are fixed. The remainder of the project is refinement, editing grammar, and formatting issues. Hopefully, before the first of the year, the Game Guide will be completed and we will be into the creature descriptions. The goal is to have all three books released for March (the opening of the convention season) and immediately pick up module writing.

Naturally, now that the rule book is being finalized, the next major fix will be the mechanical aspects of the creature descriptions. Creatures, wrapped up at the onset of the COVID outbreak, represents the oldest files in the Tortured Earth folder. This means a large number of mechanics were either created using the original version of Tortured Earth or were constructed during the alpha-phase of the re-write. The entire file - all 260 creatures - will require evaluation of rule set and refinement of information. 

Three months to complete may be a bit ambitious for a project of that scale. However, I still feel it is an attainable goal. It's going to take a lot of reading, combing, and refining before I can call it a done project. Fortunately, Kevin loves making me see my errors and sticking my nose in it, so to speak. I have no doubt we will come very close to finishing creatures in our target time frame.

Perhaps it is the nature of this industry but continually fixing spots in chapter D, turning back to chapter A to make sure the change is uniform, returning to your original spot in chapter D and editing some more, turning back to Chapter B making the same change and looking at Chapter A for good measure just seems to be all we do for months on end. Having a book that is clear, concise, and uniform in its descriptions is a top priority. Creating such a document seems to be a never-ending cycle of referring to previous works. After tonight's editing session, Kevin and I had enough time to agree on a complete read-through to confirm our work matches the goals we set.

The creative side of me wants to cut loose at this point and start writing modules and stories to further breathe life into this mad world we've created. Honestly, that's the part I'm most anxious to delve into. 

World building. 

Creature creation is fun. Descriptions are short 1-page biological profiles of each creature. When I'm focused on that aspect, I usually create anywhere from 6 to 12 creatures a day. The shortcoming of creature creation is the lack of a cohesive storyline. When I create the creatures, I usually have some story floating in my mind - an application for the construction I've just described.

The story is where I really want to work. Taking a group of characters from a generic start point and constructing a verbal maze of events and situations through which a story emerges. Now that is fun! That is true creative expression! 

When I was a young man, I once told a good friend of mine I can actually see these worlds. I can sink myself into the sweet, green  grass of a field or dive into the shockingly cold waters of a lake. I can see the dragon sliding through the trees or hear the clicking whines of a goblin horde. He was actually worried about my stability until he read a story I wrote. It was then he confessed of his concerns. He also explained he now understood why I said those things. It came through in my writing. 

And that is where I want to be in this project. I want to create stories and modules. I want to let my imagination loose again and roam all the wastelands of Tortured Earth and walk the markets of Hu and delve into the swamps of Io'Taloam. I am so anxious to start creating stories again, it is almost painful.

And to that end, I have to have the new ruleset completed. Understand me, rules don't make the story. They are a means to an end. In hoping to draw others into the worlds I want to create, I first need to have a framework to operate from. As I've mentioned in other posts, I am creating the system for which I want to write. 

Once this painful phase of development is over, it is my hope Tortured Earth will inspire other writers to create and build. Once this is all over, the creature and item creation process will be described in great enough detail that others will be able to create their own contributions to the system. Adding creatures, spells, items, and psychic abilities expands the boundaries of this multiverse. It is my hope to enable a creative community to contribute to the system and hold stake in its development.

I know with companies like D&D and Pathfinder excelling at selling libraries of books, my audience will be small. It's not an issue. I'm not overly worried about number of sales. I got into this game knowing I wasn't going to take a bite out of a multimillion dollar industry. My goal with Tortured Earth can be plainly stated: I want something to retire into. Unlike others in my community, I don't really like to drink to excess or do drugs for entertainment. I have very few friends, all of which I hold very dear. My needs are very simple. 

In the end, I want to create and entertain both myself and those willing to participate.

Thanks for reading! 

K. B. Kidder


If you are checking out this blog for the first time, you may access our website by clicking here: Tortured Earth

Character Species released for review: AllornDwarfElfEoceph, and Goblin.

Combat Creatures released for review: BraunachFaedaFetid HoundMinotaur, and Wolf.

If you are interested in the creature development process, you may submit your own creatures by filling out the following form. We will review the forms before publishing the creatures to the website. Creature Creation Form

If you would like to see what Tortured Earth looks like, the GM portion of the rule book is available as a free download on the Tortured Earth Home Page. Tortured Earth Beta GM Guide  

And finally, I have created a Tavern Generator and Loot Generator. Both are free downloads and can be adapted to a wide range of story settings. Both are written in Excel. If you are using a tablet, you can download a free version of Excel and operate it live at the game table.



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