Descent into Midnight

Created by Richard Kreutz-Landry

A roleplaying game about community, family, and hope on an aquatic world. Descent into Midnight is a Powered by the Apocalypse game where the players take on the role of psionic alien sea creatures who are defending their home from an otherworldly Corruption.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

March Update
12 days ago – Fri, Apr 02, 2021 at 05:16:19 PM

What did we accomplish in March?

  • Finished the first draft of the book text.
  • Began detailed review process of the draft with the entire core team. Made a few minor rules adjustments. This review process is roughly 60% complete.
  • Re-connected with our fiction reward authors.
  • Began programming an accessible HTML character sheet that includes character creation and saving the character data as simply as saving a new copy of the file.
  • Began work on color swatches for book layout.
  • Turned over the first few chapters of the finished draft to our copy/rules editor and proofreader.

What's next for April?

We've got the ball rolling smoothly again now, so there's a lot we're aiming to get done this month, including the following:

  • Finish core team review of first draft.
  • Set schedules and story requirements for remaining two fiction rewards.
  • Finish first draft of HTML character sheet and set up an accessibility review with our assistive technology testers.
  • Continue editing and iterating as needed.
  • Create layout for first chapter.
  • Update financial projections (review projected costs with printer, projected shipping costs, etc).

When can backers expect to start getting things?

Much of that depends on when we finalize the text and how quickly we can do layout. We're a quarter of the way through 2021, and due to everything last year, production got severely delayed. We're still, more than anything, committed to both getting everyone a fantastic game we can be proud of and making sure our team are working at a healthy pace. 

Our current projection for completing the copy/rules editing and proofreading is roughly five months, allowing an average of two weeks per chapter. The book text has grown from about 100 standard US letter-sized pages to nearly double that, so it's a lot more content than we'd originally anticipated.

We're anticipating a similar duration for layout, but we'll be doing that as we go. In addition to the book text, we'll be providing updated Playbooks that reflect the new rules and language, which will also need to be laid out. In addition to getting the finalized text laid out, we'll be reviewing the PDFs being generated with out accessibility consultant to ensure they meet the accessibility standards to make them usable to as wide a variety of players as possible. In addition, the book is planned with a 6" x 9" form factor, so 200 pages of letter-sized content will likely become a lot more in the final layout.

Realistically, our current estimate for a PDF is sometime in the last quarter of the year. While that's happening, I'll be coordinating with our editor, layout designer, art director, fiction authors, artists, and token designers to ensure as many pieces are moving forward as possible at the same time.

As soon as we have a finalized digital version, we'll get that out to backers. We'll also be working on the files to send to the printer, so we'll be beginning the proofing process as soon as we can. Our hope is that the proofing process will go smoothly and we'll have books to ship out by the end of the year.

Our priority, obviously, is finishing the main book as quickly as possible. Beyond that, there are the stretch goal unlocks. We're waiting until we have a finalized text and Playbooks to give to the Streampunks before we begin production on those episodes to make sure they're the best they can be. The coloring book pages, token designs, and fiction rewards are in progress. Depending on the team's availability, we may release those before the PDF of the book, but only if we're blocked on the main book for some reason and have bandwidth available.

We aren't currently planning on releasing things until they're finalized, but if you'd be interested in seeing draft versions to get the latest content to your table in the meantime, feel free to contact us.

A few final words

We'll again reiterate how grateful we are for everyone's patience.  Updates will be returning to the first of each month, with a quick bullet list of what we've accomplished and what we plan to do for the next month.

On a more personal note, it feels good to be back to coordinating the team. In some ways the last twelve months have felt a bit like a black hole, but we got the first draft of the book text written, and there's a bright path forward. The game is better for it, and things are looking up.

-Richard and the DiM Team

First draft complete!
about 1 month ago – Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 02:55:26 AM

We did it!

The first draft is complete. Obviously there are things we can't fill in yet (ISBN, library catalog info, the final list of backers from the combination of Kickstarter and BackerKit, page numbers for the index, etc) but the main text including the appendices is ready for editing.

We're incredibly excited to have nearly 200 pages of document to edit.

What's next?

Speaking of editing, that's the next big step. I (Richard) finished up the last of the text and appendices and the rest of the core design team is doing a review pass on the completed draft. At this point, we'll make any minor updates arising from that and getting the editing going with the new full text.

With the writing essentially complete, I'll be transitioning back into logistics and managing the rest of the process. While we're waiting on editing and layout, I'll also work on creating the accessible HTML/JavaScript versions of the Playbooks.

We would again like to thank everyone for their patience. Given the toll the ongoing pandemic has had on the team, my role as Project Lead has meant figuring out how to keep the project moving forward. Over the last year, that has essentially boiled down to doing one thing at a time, much more slowly than we'd anticipated.

The original plans we had for fulfillment had us moving swiftly through the writing and editing, and delivering that for layout and editing soon after, all while I would be managing details like getting an ISBN generated, getting the boilerplate information necessary for cataloguing data, managing additional art requests from BackerKit as they came in, etc.

Now, though, we're at a point where the remaining tasks are mostly a matter of coordinating the work of others and doing small logistical tasks that don't require large blocks of time. Things are moving forward, and I'm excited to transition back to fulfillment details and giving feedback on the work of our talented extended team.

Finally

We're two days short of the one year anniversary of the end of the campaign. I'm so incredibly grateful to everyone for the continued support and love you all have shown us. This has been an amazing journey so far, and amidst all the darkness in the world at the moment, this project has been a consistent source of light and joy, even with the stress of it taking so much longer than planned.


Thank you and stay safe

- Richard and the Team

All Chapters in First Draft Complete!
2 months ago – Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 10:29:37 PM

Just a quick update: we've completed the last chapter of the first draft! That means we're on to appendices, the index, updating the table of contents, and a few minor finishing details on the draft. The goal I'd set myself is to have all that complete by the 15th (the 1 year anniversary of the launch of the campaign). I don't know if we'll hit that precisely, but we'll be darn close. Revisiting all the wonderful text Rich and Taylor created for these sections has been a joy.

Next up is going to be editing. We've done a few informal passes so far, but with the amount of updates we've made to the text, we're essentially starting the official editing process from scratch.  I'll post an update once we've got the full text of the first draft complete (likely in the next week or two) and again once we've got an estimate for when the editing will be complete.

In the meantime, we're making measured progress on the layout and design side. By the time we have the text edited we should have had plenty of time to finish developing the new Playbook layout and the page templates for the main book. I can't say with confidence what sort of timeline we're looking at overall, but I can say that we're making measurable progress and have hit another huge milestone towards getting this into your hands.


As always, much love and gratitude

- Richard and the DiM team

January 2021 Update
2 months ago – Mon, Feb 01, 2021 at 11:13:47 PM

Writing has been progressing at a steady rate! Despite everything going on in the world, the last few weeks have been pretty productive on the writing side.

It's (Almost) Our Anniversary!

We're both excited and a bit disappointed that we're at nearly the one year anniversary of the launch of the Kickstarter. On the one hand, we've had another incredible year of working on a project that you all have decided is worth supporting. On the other, we'd hoped to have the project shipped by now, and we're still working on the writing.

First, thank you to everyone who has supported us on this journey. From the very first, we've been encouraged and guided by the enthusiasm and the feedback people have graced us with. We're so thankful for everyone's continued support and understanding, and we want you to know we're deeply grateful.

Second, we're getting really close to finished on this first draft, and I (Richard) am personally looking forward to moving from the writing role back into more of the Project Lead responsibilities that involve logistics, coordination, and generally helping other people do the amazing work that will take this from a Google document and transform it into a book. 

What's Left For The First Draft?

Some of the smaller details we won't be able to finalize until we're further along in the process (credits for everyone who worked on the book, ISBN / publishing information, etc). Additionally, we still have accessible HTML/JavaScript versions of the Playbooks to build and some of the stretch goal rewards to coordinate. That said, below is a list of what we still need to finish to get a full draft in the hands of our editor. Our earlier plans to hand over chapters piecemeal ended up not working as well as we'd hoped, in part because of the interlocking nature of the mechanics and narrative structure of the game, as opposed to this being straight prose.

The document we're using is currently about 170 pages, and by the time we're done with the rest of the writing, it could hit 200 standard letter size pages. We'll see what happens in editing, but we're expecting it to be a fairly hefty book for a Powered by the Apocalypse game.

What's left:

  • Finalize the Acknowledgements / Special Thanks section.
  • Finalize the Table of Contents.
  • Create a Session Outline handout for the Guide and update the list of play materials to include it.
  • Safety & Accessibility chapter (we've included notes throughout the text but also want to have a larger discussion about it present in the book).
  • Designs/text for any graphics/flowcharts/etc (we don't currently have these but are keeping them on the list in case they become necessary).
  • Edit the existing text for the building Custom Moves section.
  • Edit the existing text for how to build your own version of the Echo.
  • Edit the existing text for a large list of story seeds.
  • Write the closing statement / conclusion.
  • Staff Bios and other thanks / VIPs shout outs / etc.
  • Create the backer art attribution / caption appendix.
  • Create the more reading / reference materials appendix.
  • Create an index.

Final Words

Again, thank you to everyone for your patience. We're getting close to another huge milestone for the project and I couldn't be more excited. Before we close out, there's one more thing I'd like to address.

February in the United States is Black History Month. Generally we've been fairly broad in our calls to action to strengthen the communities around us, but I'd like to talk specifically about this. Last summer brought the challenges and systemic oppression Black folks face in the United States sharply into focus. This month is a good reminder to any of us who might have lost that focus to really listen to our Black friends, family, and neighbors.

This month is going to be full of corporations putting nice quotes on pretty pictures, but I'd challenge the non-Black folks like myself to take some time to educate yourself. Read what Dr. Martin Luther King had to say about white moderates. Read about the Tuskegee experiments and the Tulsa massacre in 1921. Listen to the 1619 Project podcast.

Additionally, you can seek out Black creators to support. If you like our game, chances our you're going to like Rivers Solomon's book The Deep, or Jordan Cobb's podcast Primordial Deep. Orion Black's tabletop RPGs "plot ARMOR" and "Mutants in the Night" are both fantastic.

Descent into Midnight is a weird game about psionic sea creatures, but at its heart, it's a game about bringing people together and defending a community and making it stronger. We hope in our own small way, we can help encourage people to do so in the real world.

- Richard and the DiM Team

December - January Update
3 months ago – Tue, Jan 12, 2021 at 09:00:20 PM

The Guide chapter draft is complete!

This update is a little later than I would have liked, but I wanted to wait until we had a big milestone to report. You can hear some of the new content in action on The Magpies podcast. I got to run a session in the Blades in the Dark setting, and explore the husk of a dead(?) demon leviathan isopod. It was a ton of fun.

Now, one chapter may not sound like much, but here's the list of what's in it:

  • Overview of what the Guide does.
  • Agendas (big picture vision of what the Guide is trying to accomplish).
  • Principles (more focused goals for how to build the big picture).
  • Guide Moves (the specific actions the Guide uses in response to failed rolls, perfect opportunities, or stalled conversation).
  • The Snowball (how PbtA Moves build on each other to tell the story).
  • Combat (a bit of advice for how it works in DiM).
  • Using the Sanctuary (guidance for how to use it outside of session beginnings and endings).
  • Managing the Scale of the Adventure (how to keep from jumping into a universe-spanning adventure in the first session).
  • Making and Using Non-Player Characters.
  • Making a Predator.
  • Leading the Table in Safety and Consent.
  • Preparing for Sessions.

As you can see, it's A LOT. That also includes several text / example formatting decisions that meant revisiting other portions of the text, plus writing play samples for several of the sections. After trying out a sample text format that included more than the Guide, it became pretty obvious that using examples with multiple voices / players really helped convey the tone we're going for. That necessitated re-writing the existing sample text in other places.

We even found a minor rules update or two that came out of writing the sample play examples, so it was time well spent.

What's Left?

  • Updating the existing quick start rules into a quick start / single session guide.
  • Detailed guide for first session and subsequent sessions of a longer game.
  • Polish existing section on building Custom Moves.
  • List of story seeds and interesting marine life to look up.
  • Safety and Accessibility chapter (plus a review of existing text to look for places to reinforce calls for table safety and accessibility).
  • Bibliography / source of inspiration section.
  • Backer image attributions and captions.
  • Staff bios and special thanks.
  • Indices.

At the present rate, realistically, we will likely be done with the first draft in a few months. 2020 kicked our collective butts, but we're continuing work on this and won't be stopping until it's finished and in everyone's hands. Again, we super appreciate everyone's patience.

How We're Doing

In short? Not great. Doing creative work in the United States during the last week has been even more difficult than "usual" where the "usual" has been working on the game after our full time jobs (one of us in the nursing field) during a global pandemic. We're disgusted, afraid, and angry. While psionic sea creatures don't have much to do with current events, fighting to keep back a tide of Corruption, anger, lies, and hatred feels extremely relevant as fascism continues to rise here. We hope that each of you can find a way to fight for the vulnerable and build up those around you, whether it's through political activism, donating to food banks, or just calling someone you love to tell them you love them and that we're going to get through all this together.


Love and strength to you all,

Richard KL and the DiM team