The 9th Age Behind the Scenes Blog 15

A peek into the inner workings of the 9th Age for improved transparency and insight into the decisions being made in the name of the project

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The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is here! You can read all about it in the news.

  • You know that feeling for sure, when in the morning you just want to do this:

    After having been in the word police jail for a couple of days due to excessive use of words (and memes) we had to wake up super early to provide you with part 2 of the A New Force Awakens! "Behind the Scenes" blog.

    The idea for this part was born after some skype conferences (and a lot of coffee to survive those) where TINS and myself got the idea, to answer or rather explain some community problems and fears. This is basically the "Topic of the Week" and will return as long as there are questions to answer.

    Though, we still need a badass name for this ;( (and yes, we are open for ideas here)
    [Read More]
  • Yes, this is late.

    My dog ate my e-mail, I had a crippling hangnail for 3 weeks, and cold weather slowed my internet down...

    Before we get started on the latest gossip, please welcome my new RT-Blog partner @Kathal who will be gently restraining my more mellifluous forays into aggrandizing loquacity keeping me grounded with his down-to-earth Austrian (G'Day mate!) clarity of thought.

    Let the Bureaucratic Games Begin!
    So, let's start with Advisory Board members.

    Currently, the Advisory Board's role is under re-evaluation by the Execution Executive Board. Until now, the unspoken duty of most free-agent (non-Head) Advisory Board members has been to: [Read More]
  • It is time!

    Time to share what's going on behind the scenes, elaborate on why other things happened, and generally ramble on about stuff so that everyone has a bit more of a feel for what's happening from the top to the front-lines of our modest little 10,000 member project.

    So, to kick off, I would like to begin with a little background elaboration following the minor spoiler I posted on February 4th in the Warriors of the Dark Gods sub-forum.

    As many WotDG players are probably aware by now, the new Full Army Book (which will have Seven Dark Gods) will not have Marked units in Core. This is based mostly on the background distinction between WORSHIPPERS and FOLLOWERS (placeholder names for now), which I will attempt to elaborate a little on.

    WORSHIPPERS are people who do exactly this. They worship the Dark Gods and embrace the qualities that most civilizations deep distasteful. This means they often need to practice in secret, sometimes privately, but collectively is also possible - and a major source of concern for the many rulers around the 9th Age. Barbarians however, are by definition uncivilized, and are free to practice whatever religion they feel like without social stigma. The various tribal religions are by no means exclusive to the Dark Gods however.

    FOLLOWERS on the other hand, are people who have decided to make a pact with one of the Dark Gods, trading their soul in order to begin the Path of Ascension, and gaining the possibility of achieving immortality in one's lifetime. Unlike other Gods beyond the Veil, the Dark Gods crave and consume souls at a voracious rate as their followers die, so they are keen to entice more by offering immediate rewards to new followers in the form of unique plate armor and physical augmentation thereby transforming them into the walking chainsaw we all know as the Wasteland Warrior - the very first step on the Path. Once on the Path of Ascension, every act will be punished or praised in the form of physical changes or Marks depending on the God they signed their pact with, which has a significant effect on how Warriors enter battle, since failure can be a fate almost as bad as death itself.

    I'd love to go into how this translates into gameplay mechanics, but having used up my spoiler quota already this month, I should stop there...for now.

    Still on the subject of WotDG, the community recently finished up with its item brainstorming session for with a whopping 278 posts! These have already been sorted into a top 50 or so list (a mammoth task carried out by @tunasandwichify) and of those 15 or so are currently being further developed and refined by the Army Design Team. How far the current designs will go is hard to say since it will depend on AWSW compatibility, background, complexity, and balancing, but the breadth of ideas shown was inspiring. Special shoutout to @Drakkar for his Wasteland Torch which clocked up a whopping 45 likes. Some people just want to watch the world burn...

    In conjunction with this venture into directly-solicited community design, the RT themselves, after first allowing the Army Design Team to make some proposals, have decided to throw open the ENTIRE MAGIC PHASE to channel the creative brilliance of our community - and it's still going with 50+ proposals of varying ambition, pragmatism, and originality.

    Speaking strictly for myself, I am thrilled to see so much enthusiasm and effort from everyone. It sets the bar for what our project can aspire to as a collective effort towards creating the best tabletop miniature game ever designed. My personal hope is that we will see even more staff/community collaborations and efforts going forward into 2.0 - definitely a step in the right direction in my opinion.

    So Why Don't We Share Everything?
    To answer this I want to go back to the early post-TAC pre-Armybook days of 2016, when the Ninth Age was just about to release the 'official' balanced books for each faction. At the time, one particular sub-forum, the HbE, were incredibly excited about an array of unapproved design proposals by their Army Book Committee. Unfortunately, community expectations were not properly managed at the time, so when certain design proposals exceeded the power benchmark (power-creep was a major issue for many books being written at the time) the uproar was tremendous, leading several brilliant designers to quit and leaving bitter feelings all round.

    We vowed that would never be allowed to happen again. The emotional strain on staff and community was just too much to bear repeating, which is why a more severe no-leak policy was implemented. There would be still be more leaks to come in later months, and each one tended to lead to generally poor community reactions simply because they lacked proper context.

    Then when 1.2 came out the opposite happened. Players were completely blindsided by many of the changes, and the apparent lack of reasoning behind them, and the reaction was again overwhelming… [Read More]
  • Hear ye, hear ye!

    Lo! On the day of the last sun, it did come to pass that a supplicant in a white tutu, one hailing from Santa Regina, dared the wroth of the Red-Tag Guards with a petition from his people regarding the echoing rumors of the Seven Dark Gods.

    An behold! Him of the Hidden Eating Implement was stirred to sympathy and, after consulting with higher powers, agreed to share what little wisdom he possessed (and it was indeed meagre...)

    Regarding all things Supernal: Would that mean going from four marks and four kinds of daemons to seven? Wouldn't that effectively double the amount of stuff in the daemons and WdG books?

    To which the answer is...It depends:

    For the Warriors of the Dark Gods
    This is not an increase from 4 to 7 Marks, but rather a decrease from 15 (Chosen, Daemon Prince) to 7 Marks. This will mean less to memorize for newer players, but more variety in terms of playstyle. The most obvious change will be loss of Marks on many units - particularly Core - because Marks will be signs of extreme elevation for only the most devoted followers, but this also enables a more powerful overall effect without damaging internal balance. Expect some interesting options in Special to help compensate for this...

    For the Daemonic Legions
    This will mean 3 new Greater Daemons most likely (for a total of 7), each with their own powerful army synergies or effects. Here the concept of "Greater" is being explored beyond simply being a Monster, all troop types are being examined currently. There will also be Mark-specific units - but like Warriors, not in Core - each optimized for its role, which will mean greater payoffs for good generalship within the army.

    Regarding Streamlining: I mean, I assume this means that you'd condense more stuff down and make the different daemons more similar, but I can't imagine it going over well if the existing gods lost their specialized daemons.

    Oh ye of little faith...

    Daemons will likely become more specialized; the units and especially the characters will be more differentiated than ever before. Special units will enjoy Mark efficiency to a higher degree and are being designed with the philosophy that a supernal will always choose the best possible form & abilities for its function.

    Regarding Monotheism: I don't like the whole 7 gods because I like to play monotheist and clearly we cannot have a 7 army in one book. So the whole point of monotheists lists will become irrelevant (or just as monotheists WoDG lists). Same daemons with different marks makes me going to play V1.3 for a long time with my friends...

    If by monotheist, you mean every model in the army has a Mark, then probably so. On the other hand, there are wider interpretations of the word if we think about it.

    This is a really delicate puzzle for the Army Design Team to solve admittedly; currently it is being discussed. What can be said is that Characters will still play a defining role in any Daemon army and other options such as blended Mark combos are being investigated.

    And lo! It came to pass that the repository of knowledge was empty, and the seer's vision of the future was indeed blurred.

    Thus Sprake the Blind Fool [Read More]
  • Greetings Fellow Gamers,

    A criticism that is occasionally raised by our players is that the 9th Age is too opaque in terms of its development and interaction with the general community. As a former public user and playtester, I remember well my own frustrations not knowing what was going on internally, which has resulted in me lobbying for a more informed community ever since. Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, it may well happen - and it did happen! In December 2016, @Shadeseraph and I were promoted to AvB with the express intention of providing our general community with more insight into what’s happening at all levels of the project.

    In many ways, it’s a great privilege to be able to read to discussions at the highest level. I am constantly astounded at just how much work is being shouldered by key staff members and the breadth of knowledge among those making the tough calls at the top regarding balance and design. On the other hand, when you see the sausage factory, you realize that the process of making sausages can be ugly before the final product is reached; no difference here, you're also exposed to the arguments, passion, pressure, and screw ups – because let’s face it, no-one is perfect, so why do we expect this in a voluntary project?

    Eventually Shade & I, after freaking out a bit at our new-found super-powers, sat down to hammer out some ideas to help share information with everyone without compromising internal trust or creating unnecessary drama. Then, as if on cue, we suddenly had 1.3 roll in faster than anticipated, Christmas holidays hit, and last of all the Freeze was implemented. Our little plan got derailed, but these things have to start somewhere, so here we go getting this blog on the tracks...

    The goal of this blog is to better inform our community's understanding of what’s happening internally.

    • Vision, decisions and planning (ExB)
    • Consultations (AvB)
    Game Progress
    • Background & art (BA/CDS)
    • Army redesigns (ADT)
    • Balancing (BT)
    • Rules development (RT/RTA)
    I’m aiming to provide bi-monthly updates, but these may increase in frequency if interesting/important developments are happening - and if I lag behind, give me a @call. If you are looking for spoilers – like Bear Cavalry for Dwarfs then prepare to be disappointed. Blonde Beer is in charge of PR, lives about 40 minutes drive away, and is much bigger than me, so I'll be taking no risks.

    What’s happening behind the scenes?
    Well as everyone is aware, there has been a freeze of the Rulebook, but what people might not know so much about is the why. This was due to several reasons both internal and external:
    • Externally, we were seeing players complaining about the lack of stability, and general attendance/activity was below average compared to earlier times. There was the idea of a 1.4 final tune-up floating around for a while, but if you could see the amount of work that went into 1.3 from the RT/BT/ACS and PR then it soon becomes clear that nothing is minor when it comes to 16 books.
    • Internally meanwhile, people were pretty tired and frustrated, especially among those juggling multiple design tasks – the risk of burn-out was becoming too high, especially for irreplaceable members, so the call was made to stop, focus on 2.0, and pause other developments.
    In terms of army design, the ADT receives a lots of great suggestions from the community via ACS, but these can be tricky to include. For example, recently it was suggested that WotDG should have 'bananas' in the army - and the WotDG ACS immediately up-voted the idea knowing that the community would love to have a new fruit. However, this concept went directly against the AWSW (Army Wide Strengths & Weaknesses) guidelines of a meat-only faction, and it was pointed out that there was already too much food on the table. Background also added that bananas were more of a Daemonic Legion thing, which led CDS to remark that 'fruit magic' seemed out of place then, and that perhaps WotDG should have 'gravy magic' instead.

    You see the picture.

    Then there are times when the ADT comes up with a brilliant idea about 'sausages' that doesn't quite fit the background but which gets CDS/ACS extremely excited, and so Background revisits the material and agrees to go with the stronger theme. Then CDS works on providing a sense of thematic consistency, ADT focuses on functionality, and BLT ask themselves if 'sausages' can be correctly priced. Right now, we have some pretty amazing 'sausages' in production!

    These kinds of cross-group discussions happen quite a lot, and this can also lead to 'animated discussions' about what the community will or will not accept. The necessity that existing models should always be playable is an important guideline, but this imposes certain limits on the Art, unit redesign, and internal balancing. Occasionally a model is kicked back to Background/CDS to provide clearer thematic direction, thus it's a far from a linear process and… [Read More]