I have pushed out a new edition of Heroes By Trade, my fantasy roleplaying game. We are currently playing version 3 and so far I am very pleased with my changes. I have switched over to a gigantic spawling Word document instead of a series of interlinked Google docs and I am so glad to have done so. The transition was a bunch of work but it is so much easier to deal with now. I wish I had done that from the outset!
HBT Version 3.0
Feel free to check it out and use it and do please give feedback in any case.
My next tasks are twofold: First, a rewrite and expansion of monsters. I need to add a ton of different sorts of foes into the game so that GMs have more to choose from. As part of that I need to clean up the monsters file and get them all on board with new mechanics that streamline the GM's turns in combat. Version 2 was good but there was too much bookkeeping for the GM when fighting a bunch of monsters at once and the new style cuts back on the unnecessary complexity on that end while keeping the strategies for the players as interesting as ever.
I want to make sure to keep the monster descriptions and text compelling too. I remember very fondly reading through monster manuals for DnD back in the day and learning all about lammasu diet and mating habits, ogre social structure, and the clothing styles of frost giants. I do want to get some of those nuggets in there to give players a sense of the world I have built in my head. Unfortunately I can't imagine I will include anything like the detail that those old 3 ring binders did because I can't possibly justify a full page for every monster in a book I would like to print. I will just have to make do with small but information dense snippets.
The second task is to bulk up the various racial descriptions with stories. I am stealing this technique from 4th edition DnD because I liked it so much there. They put stories right in the racial sections and I think it helped a lot to give people ideas about the sorts of things that they should consider about their characters. It is all well and good to list what dwarf society is like but I think it will be really useful to put names and backstory together in a way that ties it all up. For example, dwarven names are all reused and a name's history is of great importance. A dwarf who carries a particularly valuable name would find that leaving their family was an event of almost catastrophic grief and loss just because of the loss of the prestige of the name itself.
The ways that I have set up nonhuman societies are quite different than most people are used to so this seems like a good way to get that across. As an example, if you don't read the sylph section carefully you might miss that they are completely sexless and incapable of reproduction (they are born by falling out of the sky and glide to earth on their small wings), or that orkish males are not usually involved in heterosexual relationships and partner up mostly amongst each other (females are 10% of the population and partner up with males if and when they feel like it to produce many offspring). These situations are so out of the human norm that I think giving people some context for how such a hero could have lived in and left such a society is necessary.