Axes and Anvils draft nameplate

Completing a logo remains elusive, but here is my draft nameplate. I like it.

Happy birthday to Mike Nystul, the one who started this dwarven project! Now for an update.

Well, 2015 has been quite a year so far. My kids both started preschool in early January, and since the end of February they’ve been a conveyer belt between the school (hereafter ‘disease distribution center’) and my home (hereafter ‘plague house.’) For weeks I have struggled with illness with varying degrees of fortitude and grace while dealing with my adult responsibilities.

Still, I’ve got some news on how Axes and Anvils is progressing. I’ve had at least six backers contact me with their willingness to comb through the playtest document and point up to me points that seem to need clarification or fixing. I  have also implemented most of the changes that flow from the December playtest. For the main rules, the area that I’m taking my time with currently is the upgrades.

I have also been mulling over the response to the last update, and thinking through what’s realistic for the future.

One thing that is clear is that I am not “taking over” Axes and Anvils as a project, only as a game. I’ve never been a solution to the problem of not having miniatures, rune stones, calendars, cook books, song books, living campaigns, a convention, and so on. (Maybe the fiction anthology. Maybe.) So, while it seemed like there was a respite in backer frustration, it seeps back in as the truth stands; my best case scenario offering still only addresses the game, which was a fraction of the project that calcified around it.

This in no way dampens my enthusiasm for working on this fantastic game. It does, however, temper some of my expectations.

For one, I am giving up on the art for the time being. I want to focus on the game, and as nice as the extras (like art) are for establishing mood and style and firing the imagination, I just don’t have it in me to run that down at this point. I’m going to make a version that focuses on the game itself. The main piece of art that I do need is a logo, and I’m still working on that.

The other troublesome element is working with high-level backers. They will not get the “living world campaign” from me, and it won’t be Mike himself handing them the game they pledged for. Put another way, my game is an interpretation of what Mike was doing with Axes and Anvils; does influence in my world-building even approximate what they thought they were pledging for? And if it does not, does it make more sense not to pester them as I launch into the world building?

It seems to me the best course is to send each one an email and lay out the situation, offering them a chance to opt in or opt out with some influence as I engage the world building aspect more deeply. The world building will be, as everything else I’m doing on this project, in direct service of game play at the table. Otherwise I would have let that piece go along with the carved runes and the dice bags.

My hope is to greatly accelerate the timeline and get a version of the game out much sooner than my projected dates indicate. Wish me luck! I hope to get the backers a great little dwarf game, then expand its audience to the public shortly afterwards.