XDM: X-treme Dungeon Mastery, 2nd Edition

Created by Howard Tayler

The Cure for the Common Game

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Status Report #10
2 months ago – Fri, Nov 05, 2021 at 07:16:39 PM

Greetings Backers,

We have less to report than last time because it has only been a week, but we still have  some new things to show you.


TL;DR: For November we're staying on an  every other  week schedule for status updates, updates will happen on Nov 5 & 19. Surveys have gone out. If you didn't get yours, click the link below. Tracy acquired a job and is part of another Kickstarter, but has just pulled scheduling his game to the top of his list. Howard's lung thing has slowed him down and prevented streaming, but not prevented art progress. Sandra spent the week on admin work and Notes Merge.  Details below.


Almost 95% of you have filled out your surveys. Thank you! If you're  one of the remaining five percent, specific step-by-step instructions for  the survey can be found here. If you didn't get your survey email, or have lost it, you can go to this link to get access to your survey: https://xdm-x-treme-dungeon-mastery-2nd-edition.backerkit.com/


Status by Chapter

We've reached a point where we're finalizing art rather than focusing  on text generation. There are still a few appendices that need some  text, but over all the text is done and currently in the hands of copy  editors.  So this section of your updates will shift to art information.

  • Intro & Chapter 1-3: Art complete, waiting for final layout and design
  • Chapter 4: Howard is working on this on, it is about half done.
  • Chapters 5-15 : Second notes merge, waiting on art.
  • Appendices: X-treme Guide to Conversational Storytelling, Random   Story Generator, Secret History, DIY Initiation Rites, Accessibility,  Bibliography: Second notes merge, waiting on art.
  • Appendices: QUIRK Generator, NPC generator, About the   Contributors,  X-treme guide to comedy,  Adapting for one  shot play:  In second revision. We have notes for these. Mostly they  need to be  tightened up and  given a voice pass to add jokes.

Illustrations done: 32 (+17 from last week)

Illustrations probably done: 37 (Things like the hands showing card  tricks in Wonders of the Gods probably don't need to be re-done.)

Illustrations pending: ≈ 133 (76 confirmed art spaces + more because Howard sometimes double illustrates a page.)


Deliverables List

This is the comprehensive list of things we owe to you as part of this project.

  • XDM2e Hardback book (includes the printed end  papers and spot  gloss): Almost text complete. Illustrations and design in process.
  • XDM2e PDF: This will release to backers  at about the same time we   send the book off to print, hopefully by  November, but watch the  status  report for details.
  • XDM2e audiobook: Tracy has blocked out a  space in his schedule to   record and produce this next February. Well  before the April 2022   deadline we set in the Kickstarter
  • Signed Bookplates: We'll need to design these, that is likely to happen concurrently with cover design and book interior design.
  • Streamed book Illustrations: Follow Howard on Twitch to be alerted when a stream goes live.   You can also click that link to view recordings of past streams. Streaming schedule has been lighter because getting art done is more important than streaming and if he only has energy for one, he's going to focus on art.
  • Game with Tracy for the 6 backers who picked that level:   Tracy  will be contact the six people directly to schedule the game.   I called Tracy and pulled this back to the top of his To Do pile. I'm keeping tabs on the status of this and won't let it get lost in Tracy's juggling of projects.
  • Quest for the Tavern PDF: We'll  actually be  giving you two versions, the original is ready  for you to download as soon as you  fill out your survey. The updated one with numbers matching the  mechanical changes to the XD20 system will come  later.
  • Desktop Backgrounds: You'll be able to  get a zip file of the  first  desktop background as soon as you fill out  your survey. More  will be  coming as Howard makes art.
  • PDF of printable character stand ups: Howard is working on these   as he creates illustrations. The full PDF will available shortly after   the book goes to  print.
  • Sketches in books (or on separate papers): These will be hand   drawn by Howard Tayler. We can't get started on  these until after the   printed books arrive in our hands. We'll collect  information on   customizing sketches as we get closer to being ready to  sketch.
  • Attack on Santa's Workshop PDF: Complete! Available to you as soon as you fill out your survey.

How the past week went

This week was one of quiet working. Howard focused on art production. The biggest drag on the process is that Howard's "lung thing" has come back. At this point we are pretty convinced that what he has is long covid, though we can't prove he ever had Covid since the illness he experienced in early 2020 pre-dated the availability of tests for Covid. We've scheduled another round of doctor's visits and he did a sleep study this past week. Right now he needs all his breath to spare for drawing, so streaming will only be happening on good air days. 

Tracy's Skyraiders of Abarax Kickstarter is going wonderfully well, and in addition Tracy has picked up a job with healthcare benefits, so he's got a lot going on.  However I called him this week to pull the game for backers to the top of his To Do pile and I'll keep in touch about that.

Curtis' role in the project is complete until we need him to sign bookplates.

Sandra spent the week working on admin tasks and diving into the minutia of the Notes Merge process. She's also spent hours checking every indentation to make sure they're all equal, because somehow in our process some of them got bigger by four spaces each.  

These pages are still not finalized because we have design work to do on the top and bottom elements, also additional copy editing and formatting, but we're getting closer!

Animated gif showing words being moved around on a page as images are added and corrections are made.

And here is a short video showing Howard drawing a Ravenloft picture for the the book.

Everything is proceeding well and it is time for me to put down this update and go put some images into place.


That's it for our current status report.  Your next update will be on Friday November 19.

Thank you so much for backing our project. We are so excited that we get to make this book!

Sandra Tayler and the XDM2e Team

Status Report #9
3 months ago – Fri, Oct 29, 2021 at 11:34:30 PM

Greetings Backers,

Welcome to the third October status report!


TL;DR: For November we're staying on an every other  week schedule for status updates, but in order to dodge Thanksgiving weekend we're going to report again next week. This means updates will happen  on Nov 5 & 19. Surveys have gone out. If you didn't get yours,  click the link below. Howard worked on art, Sandra interfaced with copy editors, and Tracy launched his next Kickstarter. Details below.


Almost 90% of you have filled out your surveys. Thank you! If you're one of the remaining ten percent, specific step-by-step instructions for the survey can be found here. If you didn't get your survey email, or have lost it, you can go to this link to get access to your survey: https://xdm-x-treme-dungeon-mastery-2nd-edition.backerkit.com/


Status by Chapter

We've reached a point where we're finalizing art rather than focusing on text generation. There are still a few appendices that need some text, but over all the text is done and currently in the hands of copy editors.  So this section of your updates will shift to art information.

  • Intro & Chapter 1: Art complete, waiting for final layout and design
  • Chapter 2: Howard is working on final art today.
  • Chapters 3-15 : Second notes merge, waiting on art.
  • Appendices: X-treme Guide to Conversational Storytelling, Random  Story Generator, Secret History, DIY Initiation Rites, Accessibility, Bibliography: Second notes merge, waiting on art.
  • Appendices: QUIRK Generator, NPC generator, About the  Contributors,  X-treme guide to comedy,  Adapting for one  shot play:   In second revision. We have notes for these. Mostly they  need to be tightened up and  given a voice pass to add jokes.

Illustrations done: 32

Illustrations probably done: 37 (Things like the hands showing card tricks in Wonders of the Gods probably don't need to be re-done.)

Illustrations pending: ≈ 150


Deliverables List

This is the comprehensive list of things we owe to you as part of this project.

  • XDM2e Hardback book (includes the printed end  papers and spot gloss): Almost text complete. Illustrations and design in process.
  • XDM2e PDF: This will release to backers  at about the same time we  send the book off to print, hopefully by  November, but watch the status  report for details.
  • XDM2e audiobook: Tracy has blocked out a  space in his schedule to  record and produce this next February. Well  before the April 2022  deadline we set in the Kickstarter
  • Signed Bookplates: We'll need to design these, that is likely to happen concurrently with cover design and book interior design.
  • Streamed book Illustrations: Follow Howard on Twitch to be alerted when a stream goes live.  You can also click that link to view recordings of past streams. We  expect the streaming schedule to be light in the next couple of weeks  because of an online conference that Howard is participating in.
  • The game with Tracy for the 6 backers who picked that level:  Tracy  will be contact the six people directly to schedule the game.  Last I  heard he planned to run the game in October or November I will be in touch with Tracy next week to check on the status of this.
  • Quest for the Tavern PDF: We'll  actually be  giving you two  versions, the original is ready  for you to download as soon as you fill out your survey. The updated one with numbers matching the mechanical changes to the XD20 system will come  later.
  • Attack on Santa's Workshop PDF: Available to you as soon as you fill out your survey.
  • Desktop Backgrounds: You'll be able to  get a zip file of the first  desktop background as soon as you fill out  your survey. More will be  coming as Howard makes art.
  • PDF of printable character stand ups: Howard is working on these  as he creates illustrations. The full PDF will available shortly after  the book goes to  print.
  • Sketches in books (or on separate papers): These will be hand  drawn by Howard Tayler. We can't get started on  these until after the  printed books arrive in our hands. We'll collect  information on  customizing sketches as we get closer to being ready to  sketch.

I think that is the full list. If I've missed something, now is a  great time to mention it so I can add it.   This list is how I make sure we don't lose track of anything we promised to all of you.

How the past two weeks went

The last two weeks were highly distracting, but we got some stuff done anyway.  

Tracy launched his next Kickstarter Skyraiders of Abarax. Like the true XDM that Tracy is, he's been juggling multiple projects during the entire process of creating XDM2e. Now you can see the other thing he has been working on. An entirely new world that you can have adventures in. 

Sandra and Howard both gave a lot of time and energy to the Surrey International Writer's Conference last week. Even though the entire conference took place online, we still ended up just as exhausted as if we'd traveled to an event. It was so wonderful for us to be able to give our full attention to the conference attendees. Now we are really looking forward to making XDM2e our first priority since we have nothing on the calendar between now and US Thanksgiving. 

Sandra has finished out working with our copy editors and polished up some of the appendices. Some of the remaining appendices are best tackled when Howard can approach them from an art angle rather than a text angle. We still haven't managed to secure the paper we want, not sure if the lack of response to emails is a lost-in-the-forest-of-emails thing or a reluctant-to-respond-because-I-don't-have-the-response-I-want-to-give-you thing. Either way, Sandra will be making phone calls next week. We can definitely get paper and print books, it is just a question of whether we'll get our first choice of paper.

Howard will be streaming some of the art creation, but sometimes he doesn't have enough brain to both stream and art, on those occasions he'll make art off camera. He's done some tweeting about his art process. You can see those here

Want to see some art? I hope so, because we want to show you what we've been working on. 

One of the things about working with text and illustrations together is how much the placement of an illustration or slight change in the text can change the entire flow of a page. For example, here was our starting point for the page 18-19 spread.

Two page spread of a book with white spaces, but no images.

The first layout is me throwing words on to the page and making some guesses about where I think Howard might want to do pictures. Then when Howard starts working with a chapter, he goes to the printed pages and draws arrows about how to move text around. I do that so that Howard can see the spaces where he wants to put images.

Image of page spread with text and white spaces rearranged.

Sometimes changes earlier in a chapter affect what words go onto a particular page spread. Fortunately each chapter is separate so that a change made on page 15 will affect pages 16-23 but will not affect pages 24-206. We still try to work from beginning of chapter to end of chapter in order to not mess up work that has already been done. In this one, Howard drew two diagrams and we pushed around the remaining white space a bit.

Text has been moved around on the page. Two images have been added. There is still white space on the page.

Howard depends on seeing the exact shape of the white space so that he can draw the image to fit the available space. Rulers are involved.

Small changes to text. A joke idea is penciled in for a large white space.

Here is the current state of the 18-19 page spread. 

All of the white spaces between text have been filled with diagrams or art. The page spread seems more complete.

There is still work to do. I have to enter additional copy edits. We still need to re-design the graphic elements on the top and bottom of the page. Once we have all the art on all of the pages we'll have several passes through the book looking for "orphans and widows" where a single partial line of text wraps into the next column or onto the next page. We'll look for rivers in the text where serendipitous lining up of space makes it look like there is a white stream down the center of a block of text. 

For now though, we're focused on getting white spaces filled with art and we're wrapping everything else in our lives around getting the art done. 


That's it for our current status report.  Your next update will be next week on Friday November 5.


Thank you so much for backing our project. We are so excited that we get to make this book!

Sandra Tayler and the XDM2e Team


As a reward for reading all the way to the bottom, here is an art sneak peek.

Person in space suit looks in a window to the interior of a space ship and says: Open the Plot Twist doors, Hal! Inside the ship a glowing screen labeled "Hal 9000" answers: I can't do that, Dave. this is the Act II disaster.

Status Report #8
3 months ago – Sat, Oct 16, 2021 at 12:50:37 AM

Greetings Backers,

Welcome to the second October status report!


TL;DR: For October we're on an every other week schedule for status updates. This means updates will happen  on Oct 1, 15, & 29. Surveys went out last week. If you didn't get yours, click the link below. We fixed our video card problem, got a pile of writing done while art was on hold, then started moving forward on art again. Details below.


Almost 90% of you have filled out your surveys. Thank you! If you're one of the remaining ten percent, specific step-by-step instructions for the survey can be found here. If you didn't get your survey email, or have lost it, you can go to this link to get access to your survey: https://xdm-x-treme-dungeon-mastery-2nd-edition.backerkit.com/



Status by Chapter

For a detailed listing of process and stages, read the "How our process works" section of this update.

  • Chapter 1: In second layout, pinning down design details, now illustration complete.
  • Chapters 1-15: Second Copy Edit complete. Waiting on second layout and second notes merge.
  • Appendices: X-treme Guide to Conversational Storytelling, Random Story Generator, Secret History, DIY Initiation Rites, Accessibility: In Notes Merge.
  • Appendices: QUIRK Generator, NPC generator, About the Contributors, Bibliography,  X-treme guide to comedy,  Adapting for one shot play:   In second revision. We have notes for these. Mostly they need to be tightened up and  given a voice pass to add jokes.

By our next status update we expect all of the text to be complete, leaving only illustration and design work left to do. That will change the format of our "Status by Chapter" section of status updates starting with our next update.

Deliverables List

This is the comprehensive list of things we owe to you as part of this project.

  •  XDM2e Hardback book (includes the printed end  papers and spot gloss): Almost text complete. Illustrations and design in process.
  •  XDM2e PDF: This will release to backers at about the same time we  send the book off to print, hopefully by November, but watch the status  report for details.
  •  XDM2e audiobook: Tracy has blocked out a space in his schedule to  record and produce this next February. Well before the April 2022  deadline we set in the Kickstarter
  •  Signed Bookplates: We'll need to design these, that is likely to happen concurrently with cover design and book interior design.
  •  Streamed book Illustrations: Follow Howard on Twitch to be alerted when a stream goes live. You can also click that link to view recordings of past streams. We expect the streaming schedule to be light in the next couple of weeks because of an online conference that Howard is participating in.
  •  The game with Tracy for the 6 backers who picked that level: Tracy  will be contact the six people directly to schedule the game. Last I  heard he planned to run the game in October or November.
  •  Quest for the Tavern PDF: We'll actually be  giving you two  versions, the original is ready  for you to  download as soon as you fill out your survey. The updated  one with  numbers matching the mechanical changes to the XD20 system will come later.
  •  Attack on Santa's Workshop PDF: Available to you as soon as you fill out your survey.
  •  Desktop Backgrounds: You'll be able to get a zip file of the first  desktop background as soon as you fill out your survey. More will be  coming as Howard makes art.
  •  PDF of printable character stand ups: Howard is working on these  as he creates illustrations. The full PDF will available shortly after  the book goes to  print.
  •  Sketches in books (or on separate papers): These will be hand  drawn by Howard Tayler. We can't get started on these until after the  printed books arrive in our hands. We'll collect information on  customizing sketches as we get closer to being ready to sketch.

I think that is the full list. If I've  missed something, now is a  great time to mention it so I can add it.  This list is how I make sure  we don't lose track of anything we  promised to all of you.

How the past two weeks went

When last we updated, we were in the midst of woes with Howard's computer graphics card. We managed to acquire a replacement card and install it. It took several days to get all the pieces in place and communicating properly with each other. This disrupted drawing and streaming during the first week of October. In the second week of October (this week) Sandra had a routine colonoscopy, which, while being completely routine and boring from a medical perspective, was still a new and stressful experience for Sandra. Going through new and stressful medical experiences is also disruptive to art creation. 

Despite the disruptions, Howard plowed through a large portion of text, we put in some design work, and Howard finished some of the beginning art to set up the story that will be told via illustrations throughout the book. (If you leave Howard any room for visual storytelling, he will use it.) These early illustrations are more complicated than most of the book illustrations will be because he wanted to fit in more characters.

Woman stands in doorway welcoming players into her house. Through a window you can see a game table with multiple players sitting around it ready to have fun.
Dragon face peers through doorway at a barbarian and a bard: Dragon says "Take it all! Just tell me how to get out of here!" Bard says "I want to know how he got IN."

Most of the illustrations in the book will only have one or two characters not five or six.  That will (hopefully) allow Howard to move through the work more quickly. 

One of the things we're excited to try out, is putting a small flip-book style animation on the bottom corner of every right hand page. We've hired animator Zoe Pangeas to render these for us. We're not sure yet if we can make it work, but preliminary tests are promising.

Three images: Barbarian approaching door, barbarian smashing door, barbarian running through debris of door.

One thing we've already identified is that the lines probably need to be thicker to be readable at small size and we likely need Howard to do that thickening manually so that the animation matches the other art in the book. But we're not letting him tackle that project until the other art is complete.

Next week  will be full of disruption as Howard and Sandra are both teaching at an online writer's conference. But after that, our calendar is empty of obligations. This will allow us to build up momentum with getting the illustrations complete. By next update we'll have counted the approximate number of pending illustrations and will start doing a running tally of illustrations done / illustrations yet to do.


That's it for our current status report.  Your next update will be Friday October 29.

Thank you so much for backing our project. We are so excited that we get to make this book!

Sandra Tayler and the XDM2e Team


As a reward for reading all the way to the bottom, here is a work in progress. In order to get this one right, Howard had to dig through our Lego collection and eventually order some parts off of Ebay.

Lego minifigure with scowly face holding a minifig head that is smiling says: I found my angry face. Sketched figure running with them says: "found" sure that's what happened. Behind them are minifig legs laying on the ground.

Status Report #7
4 months ago – Mon, Oct 04, 2021 at 10:19:35 PM

Greetings Backers,

We've got important survey information for you this week!


TL;DR: For October we're moving to an every other week schedule for status updates. This means updates will happen on Oct 1, 15, & 29. Survey instructions and details are below, the surveys will go out first part of next week. Streaming art got disrupted by the imminent failure of a video card, so we shifted to finalizing writing. Details below.

Important Survey Information

Surveys will start going out early next week. Answering the surveys will give you access to the Quest for the Tavern and Assault on Santa's Workshop downloads as well as the first desktop wallpapers. As part of your survey, you will have the option to add on other items. This is a service to those who want to combine shipping with Schlock store items. You can easily click past that portion without spending any additional money if that is your preference. The survey will come to the email address you entered into Kickstarter and will be from Backerkit.

Step By Step Survey information:

The first page of your survey is simply a confirmation of your location to make sure that shipping is charged correctly. 

You will be asked a series of questions. This first question is asked of everyone. It is a reminder to everyone that the items from your pledge level will be automatically included. You don't need to add them on or select them. If you added on items during the Kickstarter funding period, those items are automatically added to your cart. You don't need to select them in Backerkit.

Note that in the right hand column you can see how many survey questions you have to answer and they get a green check mark as they are answered. Different pledge levels will get different questions based on pledge contents. For example, the question below  only goes to people who selected sketched books. We're offering the option to have your sketch drawn directly into your book or to have it on a separate paper suitable for display. 

After you complete your survey questions, you are taken to the Add-on page.

If you don't want to spend any additional money, simply click NEXT to get past this page. However if you like cool RPGs or science fiction comics, we encourage you to scroll down and look at our offerings. There are some nice deals which aren't available in our online store.  Most importantly, at the very bottom there is the option to purchase a sketch from Howard if you didn't get one yet or would like to have another one. 

If I had the ability to sort the add ons page, I would put that option near the top. Unfortunately the add ons appear in the order that I created them and I'm not going to delete everything and re-do all that work to change the order they appear on the page.

After the add on page, you'll have the chance to enter your mailing address (if you have physical rewards.) Put your current address. You will have the chance to update your address before any items ship to you. I will post links / instructions on how to update your address when we're getting ready to ship.

If you add on any items in Backerkit, you will also get a page where you enter payment information to cover the cost of those added items. Your card will not be charged right away. Cards will likely be charged sometime in January. We'll make specific announcements before orders are locked and cards are charged. Until that time, you can make changes to your order simply by re-visiting your survey link.

The final page is a confirmation page for you to review everything included in your order and any costs for items you purchase through Backerkit.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about this process, we're available to answer questions and solve problems at schlockmercenary@gmail.com.


For a detailed listing of process and stages, read the "How our process works" section of this update.

Status by Chapter

  • Chapter 1: Started work on second layout, pinning down design details, now illustration complete.
  • Chapters 1-6: Notes Merge complete. Waiting on second layout and second copy edit
  • Chapters 7-13: Starting into Notes Merge this week
  • Chapter 14-15: Three XD20 chapters got re-written into a single chapter. These should be complete today and headed for layout and copy edit.
  • Appendices: X-tremely Cool Trick for Conversational Storytelling. In Notes Merge.
  • Appendices: Secret History of XDMs, DIY initiation rites, Random Story Generator: in voice pass.
  • Appendices: QUIRk Generator, NPC generator:  In second revision.   We have notes for these. Mostly  they need to be tightened up and given  a  voice pass to add jokes.
  • Appendices: About the Contributors, Accessibility, Bibliography,    Adapting for one shot play:  In first revision and  collection. These   are almost ready for voice pass.

Deliverables List

This is the comprehensive list of things we owe to you as part of this project.

  • XDM2e Hardback book: This is the core project, the one that most of our status reports will center around.  It includes the printed end papers and spot gloss.
  • XDM2e PDF: This will release to backers at about the same time we send the book off to print, hopefully by November, but watch the status report for details.
  • XDM2e audiobook: Tracy has blocked out a space in his schedule to record and produce this next February. Well before the April 2022 deadline we set in the Kickstarter
  • Signed Bookplates: We'll need to design these, that is likely to happen concurrently with cover design and book interior design.
  • Streamed book Illustrations: Howard plans to stream most week days.  Follow Howard on Twitch to be alerted when a stream goes live. You can also click that link to view recordings of past streams.
  • The game with Tracy for the 6 backers who picked that level: Tracy will be contact the six people directly to schedule the game. Last I heard he planned to run the game in October or November.
  • Quest for the Tavern PDF: We'll actually be  giving you two versions, the original should be able to have this ready  for you to download as soon as we've got surveys to send. The updated  one with numbers matching the mechanical changes to the XD20 system will  come later.
  • Attack on Santa's Workshop PDF: We should be able to have this ready for you to download as soon as we've got surveys to send.
  • Desktop Backgrounds: You'll be able to get a zip file of the first desktop background as soon as you fill out your survey. More will be coming as Howard makes art.
  • PDF of printable character stand ups: Howard is working on these as he creates illustrations. The full PDF will available shortly after the book goes to  print.
  • Sketches in books (or on separate papers): These will be hand drawn by Howard Tayler. We can't get started on these until after the printed books arrive in our hands. We'll collect information on customizing sketches as we get closer to being ready to sketch.

I think that is the full list. If I've missed something, now is a  great time to mention it so I can add it.   This list is how I make sure  we don't lose track of anything we promised to all of you.

How this week went

Time felt muddled all week long. Both Howard and I felt like we had a week full of Friday, but now that it is actually Friday it feels like Saturday. Or maybe it is next Wednesday and we still haven't figure that out. Who knows. It is all wibbly wobbly timey wimey around her, but we're muddling forward with making stuff.

Tracy and Curtis are mostly focused on other projects, but still check in and consult on the finalization of text.

Howard is making his last run at finishing text. The three XD20 chapters have been compressed and rewritten to be one big chapter which we believe will be easier to reference. Hopefully he'll finish that up today and the Killer Breakfast chapter tomorrow. Then all that remain are a few appendices. 

Creating art got disrupted by Howard's computer starting to make an alarming noise. We were pretty certain it was a fan, which isn't necessarily dire. But then we realized that the fan in question was one of three attached to the video card. We decided to replace the video card rather than sitting nervously wondering if it would suddenly fail. We waited two days for the replacement pieces to come, discovered the budget option wasn't going to work and are now waiting another few days for the more expensive option to arrive.  If you want to read Howard's live tweet of replacements and decision making process, click here.

I (Sandra) finished setting up the Backerkit surveys which is always a long and detailed process where I discover that I need to find/edit additional product images, make hundreds of tiny set up decisions for absolutely every item we offer, and hope that I'm not making a mistake which will get automatically multiplied that I'll have to manually undo later. The biggest blockage on Backerkit set up was deciding whether to use these surveys to collect the customization information for sketches or whether to collect that information later. We ended up deciding to collect the info later which will allow some useful nuance in the customization process, but will require manual effort from me to make everything match up. Now we're just waiting for Backerkit to finish the review process so we can start sending surveys.

I also spent many hours working on the Notes Merge portion of our process because I'm supposed to hand the book over for second copy editing on Monday. And I spent some time on the phone with our printer who is helping me nail down our paper supply for getting the books printed. Hopefully within a couple of weeks the stacks of paper will be sitting in the printer's warehouse waiting for us to go to print.

We're making a shift to our schedule of Status Updates in October. We're moving to an every-other-week schedule. During October Howard and Sandra will both be teaching at the Surrey International Writer's Conference online. On that week we need to put all our focus toward being present for the conference attendees. Also the pace of the work means that the progress bars don't seem to move that much in a single week, particularly now that we're headed into the art and design phase where we'll be jumping all the way through the book instead of working chapter by chapter.  Reducing the frequency of updates gives us a little bit more time to be focusing on getting the work done instead of writing updates about the work we need to do.


That's our detailed update for this week.  Your next update will be next Friday October 15.

Thank you so much for backing our project. We are so excited that we get to make this book!

Sandra Tayler and the XDM2e Team

Status Report #6
4 months ago – Fri, Sep 24, 2021 at 08:48:17 PM

Greetings Backers,

This was the week where things started to feel settled post-Kickstarter. Howard developed a rhythm in art streaming. Curtis and Tracy delivered notes. Sandra collected notes, secured paper, and worked on getting the Backerkit set up. 


TL;DR: Howard has been working on illustrations and livestreaming some of them on his twitch account.  Sandra is still setting up the Backerkit surveys, we should have instructions on this by next Friday's status update. Tracy and Curtis have turned in their final notes and text. We're ready for the final run on finishing text. Details below.


For a detailed listing of process and stages, read the "How our process works" section of this update.

Status by Chapter

  • Chapters 1-13: Starting into Notes Merge this week
  • Chapter 14-18: We've agreed on mechanical changes. Now in Voice Pass.
  • Appendices: X-tremely Cool Trick for Conversational Storytelling. In Notes Merge.
  • Appendices: Secret History of XDMs, DIY initiation rites, Random Story Generator: in voice pass.
  • Appendices: QUIRk Generator, NPC generator:  In second revision.  We have notes for these. Mostly  they need to be tightened up and given a  voice pass to add jokes.
  • Appendices: About the Contributors, Accessibility, Bibliography,   Adapting for one shot play:  In first revision and  collection. These  are almost ready for voice pass.

Deliverables List

This is the comprehensive list of things we owe to you as part of this project.

  • XDM2e Hardback book: This is the core project,   the one that most of our status reports will center around.  It   includes the printed end papers and spot gloss.
  • XDM2e PDF: This will release to backers at   about the same time we send the book off to print, hopefully by   November, but watch the status report for details.
  • XDM2e audiobook: Tracy has blocked out a space   in his schedule to record and produce this next February. Well before   the April 2022 deadline we set in the Kickstarter
  • Signed Bookplates: We'll need to design these, that is likely to happen concurrently with cover design and book interior design.
  • Streamed book Illustrations: Howard plans to stream most week days.  Follow Howard on Twitch to be alerted when a stream goes live. You can also click that link to view recordings of past streams.
  • Quest for the Tavern PDF: We'll actually be giving you two versions, the original should be able to have this ready for you to download as soon as we've got surveys to send. The updated one with numbers matching the mechanical changes to the XD20 system will come later.
  • Attack on Santa's Workshop PDF: We should be able to have this ready for you to download as soon as we've got surveys to send.
  • Desktop Backgrounds: We have the first of  these ready now! After this status report I'll post a second, Backers  Only, update with a downloadable zip file containing your first desktop  background. More will be coming as Howard makes art.
  • PDF of printable character stand ups: Howard is working on these as he creates illustrations. The full PDF will available shortly after the book goes to  print.
  • Sketches in books: These will be hand drawn by   Howard Tayler. We can't get started on these until after the printed   books arrive in our hands. Though we do have some logistical planning  to  do in order to figure out how to let people pick some customization  at  the "answer surveys" stage of this project.

I think that is the full list. If I've  missed something, now is a  great time to mention it so I can add it.  This list is how I make sure  we don't lose track of anything we  promised to all of you.

How this week went

This week we had a meeting to talk about the XD20 chapters. Tracy had been running some XD20 streams prior to the Kickstarter and had developed some quibbles with the system he put together twelve years ago. Howard shared those quibbles, so the two of them put their heads together to update the system in a way that honored the rules-lite, pushing-against-the-status-quo first version, but didn't require negative adjustment numbers mid combat. They came to an accord which will allow Howard to launch into the edit of the XD20 chapters. It is likely those chapters will be combined, putting all of the XD20 information into a single chapter to make it easier to reference.  Then the Killer Breakfast chapter can be adjusted to match and the body text for the book is complete, leaving only appendices.


I started the process of securing a paper supply for the books, submitting a purchase order to the printer and preparing to plunk money down to reserve paper stock. This is an important step in the current situation of supply chain issues and so much of the raw pulp being sent to be made into cardboard boxes for increased shipping rather than going to paper mills to be turned into book quality paper. Specialty papers are much harder to come by than they used to be, but the printer has been great about working with me, sending samples, and once we've put down money, they'll hold a pile of paper for us until the book is ready to print.


I've also been working to set up the Backerkit surveys, which is a very fiddly process. The nice thing about Backerkit is that once the surveys are collected, I can manually correct any problems, make adjustments, write order notes, and generally manage each pledge as needed. It provides a lot of flexibility, sortability, and some really amazingly useful fulfillment tools. But setting up the surveys requires careful thought because a small set up error can assign an incorrect SKU to a question and then multiply that error across every backer who answers the question. I'd much rather set up questions correctly than use the amazing flexibility to manually fix mistakes. Surveys should be ready to start going out next week. The bulk of next week's status report is likely to be survey instructions.


Howard has been streaming illustrations almost every day this past week. He is still developing process, locking down tool settings, creating style sheets, and setting himself up to go much faster. He needs to go faster than 15 drawings per week, but we're confident he'll get there. Art is beginning to accumulate in the folder.

Two rows of art thumbnails in a file folder

One of the fun projects for the week was taking this drawing of dwarves:

Two dwarfs looking at a map. One says: I like it, but we're gonna have to get all those boats from the elves.

And repurposing a portion of it into an artwork that I can use for the tip jar icon in Backerkit.

A dward holds out his miner's cap upside down while smiling at the audience and hoping they'll toss money in.

You can watch a recording of that transformation at Illustrating XDM2e, Ep 16: Frankendwarfing for Tips. It is interesting for non artists like me to see how digital tools can transform one drawing into another one.


That's our detailed update for this week.  Your next update will be next Friday October 1st.

Thank you so much for backing our project. We are so excited that we get to make this book!

Sandra Tayler and the XDM2e Team


PS: As a reward for reading all the way to the bottom, here is a peek at some of the character stand up art that Howard is accumulating.

Two rows of black and white drawings of characters: Gnome with bow, Wizard with spork in a bathrobe, Courier, Cudgelmaiden, Lego minifig, Armored Knight, Wizard with Staff, Dwarf fighter, Barbarian with axe.