March was relentless in a toothy productive way.
We are gamecrafting at a deliberate clip; production, writing, collaborating, and art all moved forward this month. We’re satisfied with where we are (well, as close to satisfaction as debilitating perfectionism allows) and we’re excited to share some details with you. If you only have a brief wondrous moment to spend on this, ignore all these words and scroll to the bottom for some choice art.
Now let’s get right to the juicy bits:
A timely update for those kindred who doubled down on language games, you brave souls. We’ve been perfecting the layout for Sign over March. That means time in the layout lab, prototyping, talking with manufacturers, and getting samples. We have a typeset version we’re quite pleased with - but it’s been a tricky journey. After all, despite the Indie RPG Awards’ prediction that we’re on the cusp of the Children in 1970s Nicaragua game engine takeover, Sign is a special bird. Cards are key and have a good deal of content for players to consume every class and recess. Laying this out in an intuitive and accessible way is a lovely exercise in information architecture. We have our first box/card/booklet speced out. Now we’ve sent it off to our layout-type designer, who is both good and wise. After that, we tally up final dimensions and it’ll be off to the printers! Hip hip!
Collaborating and editing was all-consuming this month. We’ve finalized the rules on our end, with a few more playtests on the horizon for minor edits and new content. Also, win of wins, most of our contributors have now completed their backdrops! They are so flipping good. In a few weeks time, all backdrops (with edits and playtests) will be complete. Keith Stetson has been hard at work on the guide for incorporating Dialect into a homebrew campaign and David Peterson is getting started toward his chapter on language creation. Even with such formidable collaborators, it’s always hard working with so many humans in creative pursuits, but behold sweet friends, it’s coming together!
Dialect + Blades in the Dark.
In gaming, just like in particle physics, you can’t go wrong smashing two things together at high speed in the pursuit of truth. Trust me, I know. To test Keith’s rules on using Dialect to make language for another system, we made a Thieves’ Cant for Blades in the Dark! If you don’t know Blades, think a crew of scruffy scoundrels cutting their way to the top of a city that’s already overrun with scoundrels. Also, the city runs on demon blood. It is beautifully designed and super fun. In Part 1, we playtested Dialect in the world of Blades to build the language for a canon group called the Graycloaks, with an eye towards fleshing out their origin story. In Part 2 we played a round of Blades in the Dark as members of the Graycloaks using our new cant! Game in a game of fractal ouroboros games. Words were made, plots were twisted and in the end, the weather was so bad we almost dropped our chains (handy dandy glossary for the game here compiled by the wonderful Karen). Also, all this fun gave us decent signal for playtesting our supplemental material, so win was had by all.
Art. No really, art. Working with artists never ceases to amaze. We continue to collaborate with Jill De Haan, letterer aesthete for Dialect. She is deep in the clutches of a two-page spread based on the punchy guidance of “language phoenix.” She is taking that on and then some. (Seriously, it’s so good!) Since we have a compulsive appetite for good art, we decided to commission even more for Sign by the fantastic Miranda Meeks. That happens next month. And for those who have signed up for art prints and the rare Glorious Mystery Language Box, we have something to show you. I know you’re not really supposed to share things before they’re done, but what the hey. The piece by Erica Williams is nearly finished and it’s spectacular. The prompt was something along the lines of “animals walking through a ruined library filled with runic books” and well, see for yourself. Erica is in the process of coloring it and then it’s time to print and behold.
Phew. April is heads down writing for the rulebook. In fact, my cursor is blinking expectantly right now so I best be going. Happy Spring!
K+H. Also, Banach and Tarski, the paradoxical cats