Immortals Handbook: Gods & Monsters 5E Early Preview (Feedback encouraged)

They were 35-40 when I was doing a more direct 5e system. I am doing something different now and they don't really have a CR. Their avatar's have a CR, but their true forms do not, because...

Epic mortals can't really hang with the gods (or demon princes) that I am making. Mortals could challenge a demigod, but that is about it.

I don't understand that philosophy. The more powerful you make the gods the further you push them away from fun interactions with epic PCs.

I am really creating a separate game for immortals only (mostly) play.

Cool. Best of luck with that buddy.

I admit I am struggling with complexity. I keep trying to cut the fat and keep it simple, but it creeps back in from time to time.

I got carried away in 3.5E with complexity and when I was thinking back to my AD&D Immortal Gaming days there was none of that complexity it was just fun, fun, fun. 5E gives me the chance to make Immortals playable again (even though I know a lot of the guys here love the customizability and all the hundreds of powers I had in 3.5E). I think when you start getting dozens of abilities it only dilutes each ability. In the 1st Ed. Deities & Demigods, each crazy (often game breaking) ability a god would have felt special.
 

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dave2008

Legend
I don't understand that philosophy. The more powerful you make the gods the further you push them away from fun interactions with epic PCs.
My game is not for playing with epic PCs. You start as immortals. Once you get past the demigod tier you really can't normally be seriously harmed by mortal creatures. You can ascend a mortal PC to the divine, but mortal PCs don't really have place in my game, with some specific exceptions.
 

Armando_81

Villager
Hi @Upper_Krust! I’ve been occasionally checking this forum now and again for about 12 years, and I’ve finally created an account today to congratulate you on getting this far. It’s pretty amazing that you’ve stuck with the IH project for all this time, and I wish you well getting the rest of the way to publication!

I can’t speak to the rules, but I know a little graphic design, so here are a few pieces of layout feedback:
  • I like the marble-and-gold design a lot, and the fancy stat block border is really cool. It does take a lot of space away from the content, so you might need to make a tough decision whether to re-format it, or remove it, or remove some text. At very least, you must keep it from crowding (or even overlapping!) the text.
  • As @dave2008 mentioned, it’s odd that Legendary actions aren’t part of the stat block, but I think Flight actions also should be in there. Honestly, the Salvage and Tactics portions also seem crunchy enough to be included. A 2-column block could help this if you were willing to consider it.
  • Speaking of salvage, that table seems at odds with the rest of the design. Is there a reason that this part needs to be so distinctive?
  • Is Proficiency connected to CR in some way? It looks lonely out there by itself on the right margin of that line.
  • Do the Bloodied and Disadvantage keywords need to be a different color from the rest?
  • On the whole, the layout is a little disorientating, your eye isn’t really drawn to the upper left (where you want the readers to start, yes?) and the sections don’t really connect to the ones below them. It would make more sense to have the background above the adventure ideas in the left column, for example.
  • What’s with the little demilich guy in the corner?
  • Is Takeoff a missing flight action? It’s capitalized in the tactics section.
  • Finally, a complete opinion: I think the adventure ideas sound more like Hephaestus adventures than Ardalus adventures.
I hope that didn’t sound too critical. All in all, it’s a great job, I love the art, and I can’t wait to see some of the other entries!
 


Hey there Armando_81! :)

I’ve been occasionally checking this forum now and again for about 12 years, and I’ve finally created an account today to congratulate you on getting this far. It’s pretty amazing that you’ve stuck with the IH project for all this time, and I wish you well getting the rest of the way to publication!

Well thank you very much.

I did sort of give up on things for about 6-7 years or so (was a bit deflated after the 4E Vampire Bestiary - my own fault entirely though) and pursued a few other avenues.

I can't stress enough how things are going great with the writing and art.

I've over-reached with the page count (my usual idiocy), over spent with the art (ah well you only live once) and still a few months before I can say "its pretty much done". But I am having fun doing all this again and I hope my enthusiasm for this project comes across in the final release.

Apologies for very few spoilers to date - I don't want to drip feed things (because I often take so long) and I think hitting with a big bunch of stuff for the Kickstarter preview will make more impact.

I can’t speak to the rules, but I know a little graphic design, so here are a few pieces of layout feedback:

I appreciate every bit of feedback.

I like the marble-and-gold design a lot, and the fancy stat block border is really cool. It does take a lot of space away from the content, so you might need to make a tough decision whether to re-format it, or remove it, or remove some text. At very least, you must keep it from crowding (or even overlapping!) the text.

I know. I'll fix the dragon surround for the stat-block. Tweak a few elements. I have tried to fit the border so it is just between the columns but there is a tiny bit of run off. Its 'meant' to be more graphic flourish than illustration, I just got a bit carried away, so I think I can thin it down a bit when I re-do it.

I really want the 3 column format (and to try and keep the stat-blocks into one page).

  • As @dave2008 mentioned, it’s odd that Legendary actions aren’t part of the stat block, but I think Flight actions also should be in there. Honestly, the Salvage and Tactics portions also seem crunchy enough to be included. A 2-column block could help this if you were willing to consider it.

I don't think a 2 column format would help as much as you think. A lot of the stat-block information requires new lines and that was one of the reasons I went with the narrower triple columns in the first place.

I understand space is at a premium and in that example getting the full stat-block in was just too much.

For the monster pages with stat-blocks...

Description (Top Left) - Stat-block (Top Middle) - Background (Top Right)
Adventure Ideas (Bottom Left) - Stat Block Actions (Bottom Middle) - Tactics* (Bottom Right)

*...and potentially run-off stuff

I do have a double width dragon surround (for larger stat-blocks, but it encroaches the Background Text.

Some re-jiggling of where stuff is meant to go, might help.

  • Speaking of salvage, that table seems at odds with the rest of the design. Is there a reason that this part needs to be so distinctive?

Do you think it overwhelms the rest? I think I recently increased the size of the header font for the table and it might be a bit too obtrusive.

Solid black across the table header title is strong (I am considering a gold effect), and I maybe over did the 'shadow' surround on the table (black outer glow).

  • Is Proficiency connected to CR in some way? It looks lonely out there by itself on the right margin of that line.

I think that is how the recent official stat-blocks handle things. I did notice the claw unfortunately overlaps at that exact spot.

  • Do the Bloodied and Disadvantage keywords need to be a different color from the rest?

No maybe not, I agree the red is a distraction. Initially the Dragon Surround was actually red.

  • On the whole, the layout is a little disorientating, your eye isn’t really drawn to the upper left (where you want the readers to start, yes?)

Maybe start with an Initial Capital (Gold?), tone down the dragon surround (more graphic look) and move things around.

  • and the sections don’t really connect to the ones below them.

I think I cris-crossed things a bit with the serif'ed and sans serif fonts (distinguishing between game mechanics and the text itself) and its better to have the same types together.

  • It would make more sense to have the background above the adventure ideas in the left column, for example.

You could be right on that.

Now I should point out the top left is usually the description of the monster. But the left column could possibly be:

  • Brief Description (or No Description? )
  • Background Info
  • Adventure Ideas

Centre Column (stat block)

Right Column
- Additional Stat Information (Legendary, Mythic, Lair, Tactics, Salvage - with toned down header on the table.

  • What’s with the little demilich guy in the corner?

I have different graphic icons of each tier (Demilich is the graphic for epic tier), so when you flick through the monster sections its easier to pick out which tier you want.

Crazily though (because I am an idiot at times), each icon gets slightly bigger (and also forms a bit of a jigsaw with the previous one). I may need to tweak the gold page border so that the top corner can potentially be used as a framing device for each icon.

  • Is Takeoff a missing flight action? It’s capitalized in the tactics section.

Stalled Landing and Takeoff are the same mechanic. In one its landing (and flapping its wings) in the other it is taking off (and flapping its wings). I could have just called it Wing Flap and avoided confusion.

  • Finally, a complete opinion: I think the adventure ideas sound more like Hephaestus adventures than Ardalus adventures.

Agreed. Again Ardalus technically isn't part of the 'book' itself. I was going to just have a standard red dragon in an Appendix to show how I would do an Ancient Red Dragon. After messing about with the idea I just expanded it to be Ardalus, adopted son of Hephaestus and just cranked out a few ideas.

I hope that didn’t sound too critical.

Not at all amigo. This is the time to stick the boot in, while I still have time to change things. Really appreciate the feedback. ;)

I'm planning a web preview (something that is not in the book - for copyright reasons, but is using the mechanics) for October (a few weeks time), November and December. Then in January I should be good to start the Early Kickstarter sign-up page with some actual big previews from the book. So I will tweak the stat-block and a few design elements for the next preview and hopefully you can give me your feedback on it.

All in all, it’s a great job,

I haven't even shown anything good yet, trust me you'll love it. The 'actual' art is so good, I want to spoil stuff now, but I know I can't. :giggle:

I love the art, and I can’t wait to see some of the other entries!

The dragon art in the Ardalus entry is just a throwaway piece I knocked up. The actual art, with the real artists is awesome and I am still looking to grab 4-5 licensed illustrations and I think my main colour commission artist has 6 pieces still to finish. Probably looking at 150+ illustrations (half in colour, half in black & white).
 

Armando_81

Villager
Do you think it overwhelms the rest? I think I recently increased the size of the header font for the table and it might be a bit too obtrusive.
Yeah, a little bit. That bottom corner is the only place on the page with shaded text fields and a drop shadow, which makes it a lot darker. A piece of layout advice I've heard is to minimize the number of different font sizes on a page, so I'd keep the header font in line with the paragraph headers. Redoing the header in gold might help, but it's hard to tell which color combos will work without playing around with a bunch of them. You might even be able to just make the borders gold and make the rest of the table transparent.

Maybe start with an Initial Capital (Gold?)
I love that idea.

I think I cris-crossed things a bit with the serif'ed and sans serif fonts (distinguishing between game mechanics and the text itself)
I think grouping the related sections together (i.e., on either side of the stat block) would make that distinction much more intuitive, I didn't realize that until you pointed it out.

Crazily though (because I am an idiot at times), each icon gets slightly bigger (and also forms a bit of a jigsaw with the previous one). I may need to tweak the gold page border so that the top corner can potentially be used as a framing device for each icon.
Sounds like quite a challenge you've set yourself up for there. I agree that a framing flourish in that corner would help tie that icon into the page instead of it looking like a watermark.

Stalled Landing and Takeoff are the same mechanic.
Oh wow, I completely missed the "/Takeoff" part in the title of that flight action. Perhaps you should always refer to keywords in full? Idk if this would be an issue for anyone besides me though.

I'm planning a web preview (something that is not in the book - for copyright reasons, but is using the mechanics) for October (a few weeks time), November and December. Then in January I should be good to start the Early Kickstarter sign-up page with some actual big previews from the book. So I will tweak the stat-block and a few design elements for the next preview and hopefully you can give me your feedback on it.
Sounds like fun, I'm looking forward to it.
 

Thanks again for the feedback Arnando_81! :)

Yeah, a little bit. That bottom corner is the only place on the page with shaded text fields and a drop shadow, which makes it a lot darker. A piece of layout advice I've heard is to minimize the number of different font sizes on a page, so I'd keep the header font in line with the paragraph headers. Redoing the header in gold might help, but it's hard to tell which color combos will work without playing around with a bunch of them. You might even be able to just make the borders gold and make the rest of the table transparent.

I think I have 90% of the design issues sorted. I changed the design of the gold surround and its now a lot more manageable, a bit bulkier and less intricate. I also recently solved the corner issues (with the skulls on stat-blocks) which was really annoying me because I thought I was going to have to abandon the idea altogether. I have expanded the height of the text columns; which means the stat-blocks are about 1.5 cm longer. The monster page layouts are different:

  • Description, Background, Lore and Adventures Ideas on the left.
  • Stat-Block in the centre (I removed the dragon border for the stat-blocks in favour of a more conventional format).
  • 'Optional' Material on the right: Lair Traits, Mythic Traits (if it has them), Combat (tactics), Treasure/Salvage, Variants

Things I still need to fix:

1. Can I do gold text in Affinity Publisher using gradient filters. I have seen a video how to do it - it looks slightly fiddly but should be fine (fingers crossed). Hopefully I can achieve results close to the borders (which are done with layer masks in photoshop).
2. The Table, whether to make the top border gold and also whether to have a shadow or not.
3. Still need a font for the Initial Capital (have a few candidates, but not 100% on any yet).
4. My Printer completely seized up a few weeks ago (ink clogged and no amount of heads cleaning will seemingly fix it) and I need to get myself a new one. Its making the new layout tests a bit annoying.

I love that idea.

I am still going to try for the descriptions (italicized) first. Then Initial Cap into the Background material, with two additional paragraphs for "Lore".

I think grouping the related sections together (i.e., on either side of the stat block) would make that distinction much more intuitive, I didn't realize that until you pointed it out.

I don't know what I was thinking.

I am still using two fonts (one serif for the main text, the other sans serif for table text and stat-blocks). The sans serif is, by its nature, narrower and more 'mechanical'.

Sounds like quite a challenge you've set yourself up for there. I agree that a framing flourish in that corner would help tie that icon into the page instead of it looking like a watermark.

Yes I only solved that today. Originally the design was going to be like a stained glass window, but I probably over-complicated things and it always had some problem. Then I had the flourish design and now its a bit blockier (the gold), but a better layout overall - or so I hope. You can let me know with the next preview.

Oh wow, I completely missed the "/Takeoff" part in the title of that flight action. Perhaps you should always refer to keywords in full? Idk if this would be an issue for anyone besides me though.

I'll maybe put Takeoff first when re-phrasing it.

Sounds like fun, I'm looking forward to it.

Next preview will be a proper god, so we will see a few of the mechanics and how I am building the deities.
 

Toying about with the new logo. Any thoughts? Sword handle (in this instance) needs some work because there is typically a 'ribbon' wrapped around it - but not sure about the ribbon idea now. The sword is one of the ones detailed in the book, from Norse mythology.

Test Immortals Handbook Logo.jpg
 




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