Time of High Adventure: 11th Hour Day 1
Back when I worked at AEG, you were almost always "in the 11th hour" with at least one project. It's that period at the very end of production when you're fitting the puzzle pieces together to get your final files ready for the printer. Trouble is, you're usually working with a piece or two that just don't fit: sections that run over or under; canceled or undelivered art; wild ideas that "looked good at the time;" (good) text written by an overzealous freelancer who went off on a tangent; art appropriated from a previously over-ordered project, or delivered by an art director who's out of the loop; (well developed) mechanics that weren't part of the original outline; executive orders that leave you with an extra signature to fill; last-second fan suggestions you really can't ignore; and other assorted surprises from the seemingly bottomless barrel of monkeys (and other stuff that comes from monkeys) that the process likes to fling at creatives in the RPG industry.
Fortunately, the smaller your design house the easier it is to plan for and react to these issues, but you're still always grappling with at least a couple, and honestly, they're part of what makes the process interesting, or at least challenging. Today I'm fully engaged in the final battle with our first Fantasy Craft supplement, Time of High Adventure. The text is there - it's written almost entirely by Loren Dean, who's about as spot-on as they come. The art's looking awesome, though it's not coming in quite as quickly as we'd like (not the artists' fault - we're on schedule for the book's release but we're also pushing to get a short POD run ready for GenCon). The Fantasy Craft layout template is holding up as planned, so we're fine there. No, this time it's all about a small pile of tiny pieces that are holding up the process on every front: expanded NPC and monster stats, like we've done with the stat sheets in the recently updated Darkest Hour and Cleansing of Black Spur; editing and a little writing to wrap up the default setting behind the book's adventure trilogy; the introduction; the OGC; and a set of fast-play iconics so folks can run directly out of the book with minimal prep. Oh, and going through the printer quotes and choosing the house that'll make this bad boy a reality.
With the very last of the Second Printing madness now completely behind us, this is our all-consuming (well, nigh-consuming) focus until the job's done - and that's exactly how I like it. Wish me luck! See you on the flip side.