Design Diary 15

The Phoenix Has Landed

Today is a red-letter day. It's the culmination of 9 months of work, and a huge milestone for me - the day I release the alpha version of my new system to the public. Sure, it's not quite done yet - I'm still working on the monsters and a couple little odds and ends - but all the rest of the basic stuff is there. I figured today was as good a day as any, really; I've already pushed the release date back twice due to a computer upgrade and my wish to get the combat section done, so doing it again would just be acknolwedging the fact that I'm procrastinating. Yes, I'm nervous. Yes, I want it to be perfect, even though I know it won't be, nor will it be "done" anytime soon, if ever. So, I decided to "just do it".

So here we are. Project Phoenix has been (and still is) a major undertaking, a very ambitious venture, and one that I did completely on my own. I can't claim credit for every idea included here - I had a lot of invaluable help on a couple of the classes, and I've borrowed ideas from many sources and adapted them to my needs - but all the work here is my own. A lot of it predates Project Phoenix, as I noted before; I've been tweaking and revising rules systems for years. All the work on the site is my own - it took me six weeks to set up what I've got so far. All the editing - that's me too. I'm really fortunate that I'm a good typer; it saves me a lot of work (hah). My Project Phoenix folder has 18+ MB of files in it; I've had roughly 30 pages of notes (in MS Word) about possible changes I want to make and things I wanted to fix (I wish now I'd kept better track of those notes, but I deleted things as they were either incorporated or tossed aside).

But seriously… to my knowledge, no individual has ever tried a complete revision of any system. I know several people are working on their own projects, but I don't know how far they're going, because their work is mostly for their own games. It could be argued that Jason Bulhman (Paizo) is attempting the same thing, but he's got five other folks (and a couple advisors) working with him, along with several thousand of playtesters. They're sticking "close to shore", as it were - making changes that don't stray too far from the 3.5 we all know and love. Their stated goal was to keep the 3.5 ruleset alive and going, so making too many changes would have obviated that. And that's cool - I'm not trying to bash on them; I think it's a good business model, really: make enough changes that people will want to buy a new rulebook, then introduce further (necessary) changes, adjustments, and bugfixes brought out by playtesting in future supplements. In a couple years, if the line's doing well, you release a new edition that's less "3.5" and more "Pathfinder".

Me, I'm not in it for the money, so I can do whatever the hell I want. It's kind of liberating, really - if I think something's a good idea, chances are it'll make it into Project Phoenix. That's not to say that I don't want (or will ignore) feedback - I'm not doing this just for myself, but for all the players out there who like 3.5 and want to see the system fixed. It's your game as much as mine, but I retain the right to veto anything that's too "out there" or won't fit into the vision I have for PP. Soon the forums will be up; I encourage you all to join me there, post your comments, criticisms, and maybe even a few playtest reports. This is for you, after all.

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