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:

All Chapters in First Draft Complete!
9 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
9 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
9 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

November Update
11 months ago – Tue, Dec 08, 2020 at 01:15:12 AM

November Progress

We've finished the Campaign Play chapter which gives advice for games that run multiple sessions. Generally games won't go more than 10 sessions on the long end, but it's still a different beast to run a single session game versus a longer story.

We also got the majority of the Guide chapter done. The Agendas and Principles were relatively straightforward, since they're more like guidelines for what tone you're trying to achieve and some big picture ideas to keep in mind. When we got to the Guide Moves, things got a bit trickier.

We had a good first draft list of Moves ready, but we found that it leaned a bit too heavily into the abstract. We got the design team together and hammered out a new list that we'll be fleshing out this month.

We're also progressing on the layout front, reviewing sample pages and starting on the Chapter 1 layout to see what real content looks like when it's laid out.

What's Next?

We're filling out the Guide Moves, then moving onto the general Guide advice for how to create and use NPCs and antagonists, help make each Playbook shine, lead the group in table safety, and prepare between sessions without planning too much.

After that, we'll clean up the chapter on running the first session. The plan is to have a step-by-step guide to help you run the first session. Running Powered by the Apocalypse games can be intimidating if you're new to role playing games or are used to games where the player running the game can do lots of planning ahead of time. This section should help make the introduction to the game for the group a little easier.

A Final Word

I've done my best to be as transparent as possible with how we're doing both personally and in terms of the project. It's been a tough year. Our initial estimate when we launched the Kickstarter was that we'd have everything written within a few months and printed and shipped by the end of the year. Obviously that wasn't how things went. That said, the extra time, like with any project, has allowed us to refine the game. It's going to be better because we've had more time to work on it.

There are three chapters left after the current Guide chapter, plus a few miscellaneous sections like an index and the listing of backer submitted art captions. I'm going to guess that at the current rate, we'll be finished with the first complete draft of the text at the end of February. We'll still have copy editing, layout, accessibility review, etc to do, but we should have a head start on most of those things. It's been a longer road than we'd anticipated but we're moving forward.

We're incredibly grateful for everyone's patience, and we can't wait to get this out to everyone once it's ready. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy. Love from all of us,

- Richard and the DiM Team

October Update
12 months ago – Tue, Nov 03, 2020 at 10:10:23 AM

October Progress

The Playbooks chapter is finished! We did another pass through the playbooks for balance, formatting, and renamed some mechanics to better convey their meaning. Additionally, we added sections that briefly tell you what each playbook is, some reasons why you might want to play them, and offer up some sample characters.

What's next?

We'll be diving into the advice for multi-session games, and advice for the Guide. We have quite a bit written, but we need to whittle it all down into something that flows well and distills down what we've learned from a few years of running the game into practical advice. We're hoping this section will move a bit more quickly because we don't have to worry as much about the interconnected moving parts of the mechanics.

After that, there's only a few more large sections: a chapter on how to run the first session and a chapter on how to customize the game (with custom Moves, adjustments to the rules, etc). We also want to create a section that goes into a bit more depth about how to maintain table safety and how to make the game accessible. Part of that will also be doing a pass through the existing content to make sure that table safety and accessibility aren't just siloed into their own chapter as an afterthought.

We still have a good deal of writing to do, but things are progressing. Again, we really appreciate everyone's patience, as this year has slowed things down much more than we'd anticipated.

A Final Word

For all of us in the United States, please make a plan to vote safely if you haven't already. This month promises to be an incredibly stressful time, regardless of how things turn out. Please stay safe and remember to look out for each other. Check in with friends when you have the energy, and be kind to yourself.

Love from all of us,

Richard and the DiM team