As of 6:30 AM, the text that is Shadow, Sword & Spell 2E has been placed in the InDesign document that will create the new edition for the game.
It has been a long road for this game.
A very long road.
The book has seen me through hardships, as well as help me deal with death.
A lot of death.
Still, it feels great that I have reached this point in the process. It means that I get to do my favorite part of any project: the layout.
Next to the manuscript, the layout design has taken a lot of my time. While Tom Cadorette went to work editing the manuscript (and he has done an amazing job helping me make this book so much better) I spent the past month on creating the book's look.
100 sketches of potential pages. Close to 40 typefaces I experimented with. 100 mock layouts that allowed me to see which design I wanted to run with, as well as which typefaces would work and not work. Added into all of this is the hours spent studying the work and styles of the designers and schools of design that influence my style.
I am a modern designer.
My influences start with the Bauhaus (for example of this see Battlefield's Press Kaiser Gate), to Jan Tschichold, to Russian Constructivism as exemplified by El Lissitzky, to the Swiss School, to Massimo Vignelli, and finally to Japanese Modern (here, here, Master Aoba, and Naoto Fukasawa (who incidentally did design for Muji)).
All of that influences me, and all of that lead me to the design choices I made for Shadow, Sword & Spell 2E.
Shadow, Sword & Spell is a modern game, in that I am not trying to capture the feel of the late 18th-Century Colonial Gothic is set in. Though that game is a modern take, it is influenced heavily by the printers from that period, which are shown by the period typeface choices I make.
With fantasy, however, there is a tendency to either emulate TSR's 1980 esthetic (exemplified by the OSR Movement), to the hodgepodge of look and fonts of the 1990s when desktop publishing started to become more affordable. This century has seen a break from this (even though some games still cling tightly to the lessons of the out-dated past) and there are beautifully designed books which are both a pleasure to read and use (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Additionally, with the genre Shadow, Sword & Spell is influenced by (pulp fantasy) there is a very strong temptation to use an art deco approach to the book's look.
I rejected that.
That is too cliched to be considered, as well as being too trite to even contemplate.
I also wanted a book that is readable, and this is achieved by allowing the page to breathe.
Allowing a page to breathe is simply not trying to cram as many words as you can on one page. You allow for white space, you allow for a more open kerning, and a generous leading. All of this helps make a page breath, and makes the reading enjoyable, as well as make table use easier.
In any case, all of that has been important for this new edition of Shadow, Sword & Spell 2E. Working hand-in-hand with the extensive rewriting, extensive mechanic revisions, and extensive rethinking of what the game is, Shadow, Sword & Spell 2E is a different game.
And this is a good thing.