I agree with the review. I really like this game, but I am glad that I'm not the only one who has trouble parsing the rules. I read the whole book through, and now am going through page by page and trying to understand how things work. I definitely appreciate it, Dan, that you take the time to clarify and answer my questions. I would imagine it is pretty tough on the ego to have spent so much time developing a game, only to have folks saying "What does this mean?" "You made a mistake here!" ... So even if I ask a lot of questions, I am trying to get it right, so that when I try it with my gaming group, I'll be able to make a good impression!
Hey, ya know, I'm honored that folks out there find it worth their while to get a better understanding of the game. I hope that the Quickstart continues to help clarify things, but most criticisms and feedback have been positive and constructive. Nobody has sent me any hate mail, so I'm okay so far
I think part of the reputation of a game depends on its designers' support, and while I'd like to be able to do more, the least I can do is make myself available to answer any and all questions.
Here's a brief history of rules drafts, for the curious:
The final manuscript was the result a mind boggling number of drafts, each reworked by a different contributor. The first draft was cobbled together from a tome of my original design notes by Randall after years of our tinkering/creating, then it was reworked by my wife (Carrie Cross) but read sort of like stereo instructions. I was working on Troll Lord games supplements at the time, so I didn't write the first full draft of ERP. Then I sent those rules out to two playtest groups, who sent me much feedback, and for the next two years the rules changed so quickly and so often that I thought my head was going to explode. Larry Hols also contributed much, wrote much of the introduction, and reworked the organization of the rules. This was definitely a long, drawn out team project. Luckily the rules did reach a point of relative resiliency, and we all agreed the work represented a neat toolkit that could be infinitely alerted to suit individual taste.
Once, long ago, I shopped the rules to Silven Publishing (before they folded and Goodman picked it up)...by then, I could barely look at that manuscript. It was like re-reading the the same school paper for five years straight. I knew I was blind to it, and couldn't be objective with the manuscript, so I relied on outside editors to streamline it. Otherwise, and if I were inclined to run my own business (which I am not!) I might have self-published. But frankly, I expected too much, because their editors didn't know the rules like I did. I hoped for a developmental edit, but I can't bitch, because at that time I let the ball roll a bit too far out of my court. .That's why the book is still difficult in parts despite seven people listed as editors; I didn't take the reigns like I should have. If not for Kosala the game would not have seen a finished form...it would still be a virtual stack of notes. lSo, I've tried to correct some of this with my Quickstart and adventure, and anything wrong with that is now egg on my face alone! So far I've heard no serious complaints about the content.
I'm heartened by the fact that other designers have had similar experiences. Castles and Crusades was less than perfect in its first printing, but thrived. By all accounts, Eldritch RPG is ADDICTIVE in actual play, and what more can I hope for? As the reviewer said, if the game reads really well but sucks in actual play, then nothing will save it.
Goodman knew they had a potential gem with ERP, and although my team didn't manage to blow all the dust off yet, I believe the system really can shine.