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:

New Art and The Basics Section
9 days ago – Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 09:25:21 PM

Art!

Devon completed another fantastic illustration for the book interior. This one features a pair of crystal spires grown around dark stone, deep below the ice above.

Crystal spires rising from dark stone, with seahorses, and long fish swimming nearby.

Writing Update: The Basics

Writing has been progressing steadily! Having an organized writing group is doing wonders for helping me to focus, and working on the "The Basics" section of the book is forcing me to distill a lot of the mechanics and ideas about the game into their most... well, basic forms.

It's slower going than I'd originally anticipated, but we've got an example of play section I wrote as a first draft that we can use in another section of the book or split apart to illustrate various mechanics now. With the new draft, I've got a concise section that essentially says "what the heck is this game and how does it work" that I'll be able to review with Taylor and Rich to make sure we're all heading the same direction as we move on to filling out the remaining sections.

Next up is the "Characters" section, where we'll dig in deep about what makes a character in Descent into Midnight. There's a LOT to say about characters, and I'm looking forward to spending some time exploring and explaining what makes these psionic sea creatures so special.

A Call to Care

It's pretty obvious why, but many of us need may need an extra bit of encouragement or love at the moment. I just want to take a moment and say that whatever you're doing to take care of yourself and the people you care about is valuable. Drink a glass of water, text a loved one that you're thinking about them, or just set a timer and step away from doomscrolling on social media for an hour. If you can, financially support justice for Black folks, follow people from marginalized communities on social media and just listen to what they've got to say, buy some extra postage stamps, whatever. Just pick one thing and do it.

We're grateful as always for the support and love you've shown to us. We hope that you'll also show that same love and support to yourselves and the most vulnerable people around you.

-Richard

LOTS of Art & Progress Update
22 days ago – Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 12:19:35 AM

If you're just here to check out the new art, feel free to scroll down to the end, where we've got over a dozen new illustrations to share!

This is a long overdue major progress update. It's a big one, so let's get to it.

Writing

As I've said in previous updates, the writing has been tough. It's the biggest piece, and I've been in charge of it and have thus far failed to make the kind of progress I want. After setting up solo structured time failed, I've set up a small writing club that I'm responsible for running, with three writing sprints a week. I'll be doing more writing than that, but being accountable for making an event happen for other people is extremely motivating.

The information below is an estimated progress and first draft completion date for each section of the book. We will be doing rolling editing as we finish sections.

Preface: 100% complete. 

The Basics: 50% complete, first draft complete by July 17. We have the quick start write up, but need to adjust it from a session start guide to more of an introduction. We’re generally aiming the game at an audience where at least one person in the group has played role playing games before, so we aren’t planning on a super-detailed “what is a role playing game” section.

Characters: 40% complete, first draft complete by July 19. This is a short section that goes over some of the basics of what makes up a character in the game, along with some advice about how to create a character.

Moves: 50% complete, first draft complete by July 24. This is a discussion of the various types of moves in the game, giving a bit more context about the moves and how they can be used.

Playbooks: 50% complete, first draft complete by July 31. The first draft of all 10 playbooks are ready for an editing pass, but, similar to the Moves section, we want to expand a bit on what each playbook is and how it functions.

Conditions: 50% complete, first draft complete by August 2. We have a basic description of the conditions, but we want to go into more depth about how they’ll be used in play. Also, we want to make sure we slot this section in a place that makes sense with the flow of the book.

Campaign Play: 5% complete, first draft complete by August 9. With the Corruption Moves and the mechanics that support them, characters have a built-in mechanic to build to a climax and then exit the story. This section will contain advice for how to run longer games and/or tie arcs together.

Guide Advice: 30% complete, first draft complete by August 14. We have information about the agendas, principles, and reactions Guides use during the game already written, but we want to expand that into a more comprehensive tool set. Because so much of what happens at the table is built by the players, it can be difficult to prepare ahead of time, so having easy to use tools that keep the action moving is doubly important.

The First Session: 40% complete, first draft complete by August 16. We have the outline from the quick start guide, but we want to reshape it to fit within the context of the full book, and tailor it for the beginning of a longer campaign. Also, as abstract as the game can be, we’re considering adding a significant amount of play examples throughout the book, and this would have a good chunk of that.

Making the Game Yours: 25% complete, first draft complete by August 21. This includes advice on custom moves, advice for running the game as a one-shot, etc. There’s some overlap between this section and the Guide advice, so we may end up combining or rearranging things.

Conclusion: 0% complete, first draft complete by August 23. This should be a relatively short section that wraps up our thoughts.

Appendices and Index: 0% complete, first draft complete by August 28. This section will include a list of captions for the backer-submitted art requests, as well as an index, plus any other appendices we find necessary.

Safety: 0% complete, first draft complete by August 31. Safety at the table is important. The game by its nature should encourage checking in with other players, but we also want to have a section that highlights how to look out for each other during play. We haven’t decided precisely where in the book it will go yet, but it will be there.

Stretch Goal Rewards

Tokens: We’re about 60% complete with the token designs. We’ve done test 3D prints and laser cuts and are excited about both of them. The paper printable tokens will come a bit later once we’ve finalized the other versions, and shouldn't take more than a few hours to dial in.

Fiction: We’ve received one of the fiction works so far and are thrilled with it. We’ll be reaching out to the other authors to check in, understanding of course that the months since the Kickstarter ended have been… a lot. The current plan is to work with the authors to have the pieces completed by the time we deliver the main book.

Streampunks: I’ve been in contact with Eric Campbell and can’t wait to get the team the finished rules and playbooks once they’re ready. Ideally we’d like to show off the finished rules after it has been edited, and have the Guide advice ready to go for them. The Streampunks are doing some fantastic work, including a new Klingon show Blood of the Void that airs once  a month in the same time slot as their current Clear Skies show.

Coloring Book: The initial run of coloring book images are complete! The Backerkit store has an add-on that allows you to submit an art requirement for an additional page you would like to include in the coloring book. Once we’re closer to release, we’ll collect those art requirements and get them added in.

Artwork

I don't even know what to say here except we have a BUNCH of fantastic art to share. Taylor finished a large batch of backer-submitted art requests for characters, and Devon finished the cityscape inspired by the most memorable gaming experience I've had in two decades of playing RPGs.

Tattooed, multi-finned whale above an underwater like near a singing crystal spire.
Otter-like plant creature with a pocket crab and tiny fish.
Ring-like creature with long feathery tendrils similar to a feather star.
Roiling, oily ball of liquid weaving in and out of itself.

Large craggy shrimp with a parasitic anemone where one of its eyes should be.

Sea anemone with tendrils that can heal or harm.

Energetic seaweed creature that looks a bit like a happy Cairn Terrier.
Encrusted crustacean colony creature with worm-like tendrils erupting from the cracks in its shell.

Ghostly shapeshifting being with long tendrils fading away into nothingness.

Massive sea serpent with rocks embedded in its skin, rearing up to face the viewer.

Joyous manatee-sea dragon hybrid clapping its fins together merrily.

Enormous sea serpent with scales that hide rune-like patterns between them.

Distinctly humanoid sea apple with bushy "hair" and a thoughtful expression on its face.

A group of sea angels flapping their way through the water and perhaps your consciousness.

Quick update and Fantastic Lairs
about 1 month ago – Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 08:42:07 PM

Just two quick things for today (there will be a more comprehensive update shortly, but one of these is time-sensitive):

First, friend of the team James Introcaso along with Scott Fitzgerald Grey and Michael E. Shea (SlyFlourish) are in the final 48 hours of funding Fantastic Lairs: Boss Battles & Final Encounters for D&D 5e. When I get the itch to play D&D, my usual tactic these days is to grab something pre-made and reskin it as underwater content (Looking at you, Lost Mines of Fin-delver). For this, they basically came up with 20 epic locations and boss battles and got all the stuff you'd expect to go with it (maps, artwork, advice on how to slot it into your game, tactics advice for how to run it, etc). James has been a great friend to the Descent into Midnight team for years (you can check out some of the aquatic-themed games Rich has run on the Don't Split the Podcast Network feed) and is a fantastic game designer who has successfully Kickstarted and delivered rad TTRPG projects in the past. If D&D is your thing, definitely grab this.

Second, progress on writing has been a lot slower than I'd like. I'll be blunt and say that I'm primarily in charge of that piece and I've had a really hard time getting in the right headspace to write. Writing a game about bringing a community together to combat a powerful Corruption that seeks to tear it apart feels more important than ever at the moment. But it's also more emotionally draining than I'd anticipated. To put it another way, writing about psionic sea creatures with powers feels so small compared to the very real worries I have about the safety of my Black and Japanese family members.

But, it's something I can do, along with all the other tangible ways to help in the real world (see this Black Lives Matter list of resources). By Friday, I'll have another post up with the deadlines for the various first draft writing sections to keep you all up to date on where we're at with it, and as a bonus, it will have a little detail about the proposed structure of the book by its very nature. If we have new final pieces from the art team by then, I'll also include those.

Thanks to everyone for your patience, and for supporting this game. We can make our community better together, even though we're not psionic sea creatures (well, most of us).

- Richard

Artwork & Electropunk
3 months ago – Fri, May 22, 2020 at 12:42:04 AM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.

New art! New Corruption moves!
3 months ago – Thu, May 07, 2020 at 08:20:50 PM

And we're back! Thanks for your patience, everyone. It's been a bit longer than I'd anticipated between updates but we've got some really exciting artwork from Devon for two of the backer-inspired cityscapes. Check them out at the end of the post!

Writing

I've been doing substantial revisions of the playbooks. We're cutting down on the length of the text for many of the moves to help keep the playbook layout from being overcrowded. Balancing that with getting across the unique flavor of the game has been a challenge. During playtests, we had to get all of that across in just the space of the playbook, but with the book, we'll be able to discuss the moves and how they might be used in depth in the book text instead.

Additionally, looking at the Corruption moves across playbooks has revealed how our thoughts about them have changed through the development cycle, so I'm going through and balancing against the other playbooks. Some playbooks currently have a three double-edged swords, while others have three unequivocally horrifying moves. Right now, if you have any Corruption moves you have unlocked but haven't triggered, you have a permanently marked box of Corruption on your Corruption track. That's the mechanical incentive to use the move, aside from making the story more interesting. But several of the moves have other mechanical incentives built in, and we want to reinforce the theme that the power of the Corruption can be hard to resist.

Surveys

We're at 90% completion on the BackerKit surveys, so there's only about 100 folks who haven't responded. That's pretty good for where we're at in the process. If you're having any trouble with it, feel free to contact us here, on Twitter, or via BackerKit.

Artwork

Devon George has brought two of the cityscapes submitted by our backers to life in stunning detail here. We're excited to use these in the book but wanted to share them as soon as they were done with all of you.

Crabs with sword-like legs stalking below enormous hexagonal arches.
A circular ball of water casting light into a columned pit with a sea urchin and octopode inhabitant.

Words of Encouragement

Today my wife and I are having a Good Omens remote watch party with some friends. I'm grateful that we have the technology to be able to reach out and have these shared experiences. So my thought to everyone today is this: what are you grateful for? I've been finding it hard some days to find that thing, but it's been extremely helpful.

Lots of love and gratitude,

- Richard and the Descent into Midnight team