Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2007

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the ninety-eighth issue of The Guild Companion.


As some of you know, the HARP SF manuscript has been complete (including the extra chapter and sections requested by ICE) since the summer of last year. Indeed, it was a matter of some pride and smugness to me that I completed it just as my series of medical treatments came to a close. ICE, however, have been rather busy with RM Classic and the manuscript was idling in editorial intrays at ICE. Meanwhile, ICE received requests for when it would be released, I received requests from fans around the world to get access to the manuscript in return for playtesting, and there was a general sense of impatience.

HARP SF has had the benefit of substantial feedback from its alpha set of playtesters that I personally recruited (and who are still involved on our private mailing list). It occurred to me that the feedback period created by the publication of the original 160-page version of HARP had been very effective in improving the HARP fantasy role-playing game, leading to the publication of the present 192-page volume a very few months later, and prior to the release of any supplements. The people who tried 160-page HARP had fresh eyes and without an inside track on the content through the development phase.

The question was then: Could the same effect be achieved for HARP SF? More importantly, could the same effect be achieved given that ICE were still tied up with RM Classic, and without the cost of a print run?

My experience with Steve Jackson Games and the past playtesting of manuscripts there (in my case GURPS Age of Napoleon) by Pyramid subscribers suggested a possibility. Take the manuscript as-is, perform some modest reformatting, and put it on sale as a beta pdf. Allow purchasers to comment on the beta release, and use that feedback to inform the manuscript as it proceeds to final release.

I suggested this to Tim Dugger at ICE. He and Bruce figured out the details. Tim then reformatted the manuscript, finally ridding it of the fantasy themed Korigan font for the sf-themed Serpentine, cleaning up many of the table issues, and other styling errors that crept in over two laptops, fonts going astray, and general accumulation of Word debris.

The HARP SF Beta went on sale last month for the modest sum of fifteen dollars. Buying a copy entitles a purchaser to receive free updates of the beta pdf as I make changes, up to and including, the final release pdf. This is important - in order to ensure that you get those updates, you need to follow the instructions at http://www.ironcrown.com/ICEforums/index.php?topic=3518.0 - and if you follow those instructions, you will also gain posting rights on the HARP SF Beta forum.

(And there will be a printed release of HARP SF in due course, so those of you, like me, who like printed books, will get their wish.)

A small community of beta testers has already taken root on the HARP SF Beta forum, and they have made a number of useful suggestions for tweaks, clarifications, and so forth. I'm quietly collating these and will be making modifications to the manuscript. Even if you have not purchased the beta, you can drop into the forum and have a look around. The duration of this beta testing is as yest undetermined, so if you are interested, get involved early.

Farewell for now ...

I'm off to finish the editing of The Guild Adventurer #2, so I'll let you enjoy the rest of this month's issue. We'll be back in May, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion