Status Update

December 13, 2022 17 min read

What’s up backers!

Brooklynn here.

It’s been so long since we’ve dropped an update.

It’s been a wild ride over at Succubus, and I thought all of you deserved to know what has been going on. After I identified that I wouldn’t be able to tackle this project in a reasonable amount of time without help, I reached out to professionals in the industry and built a team that could help me bring my vision to life.

Since then, we’ve had new hires, tons of training, and have been generally navigating a new landscape within our company. This includes all the boring but important things required to tune our turnaround times for both this project and future ones.

This has caused some short term setbacks. But I’m confident it was the right choice in the long run as it will mean that we will be able to hit deadlines we set, instead of being perpetually wrong about our own projections.

This also means that our new project manager (incidentally also a backer of Middara) has brought down the hammer of organization upon me, forcing me to check myself before saying dates. We’ve been in talks with manufacturers for a long time now and they are working with us to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible.

But with Chinese New Years occurring in January next year, we know there is no way this project will be getting ahead of that date. Instead, we will be shooting to use the time between now and February to make sure that all our digital files are production ready when the time comes to hit the print button.

This means that the current plan is to have our miniatures well into manufacturing before January. But, it also means we won’t be giving final digital files for print to our manufacturer until just after Chinese New Years.

I wanted to personally apologize for the delays. We completed a good amount of content, and had even promised to have Pirates of Elenia and some other products posted onto our Discord much earlier in the year.

The truth is that I am the one responsible for the lack of content being released on Discord. I wasn’t personally happy with the state of the game and some of the designs. Because of this, I decided to course correct a lot of the content myself, and took on too much work. This is the primary reason for the delivery delays this year and in this post. But I truly feel that the game will be much better for it.

With all that said, we’ve grown significantly and have a wonderful team on board now to help me see my vision through. This has resulted in great progress over the last six months and I intend to start showing off the fruits of our labors frequently moving forward.

I’m also very excited about all the upcoming designs we’re preparing for feedback on our Discord channel. Please, if you want to help forge the path and direction for Middara, now is the time to hop onto our Discord and help us build the best game we can.

Before we jump into some cool new content, I wanted to lay out our plan for getting this game to your doorstep in a TLDR format for everyone.

After discussing the remaining scope of the project with the team, our manufacturing partners, and a few freight forwarding services, we feel confident providing the following roadmap. Keep in mind, we’ve been in talks with manufacturers for a long time now and they are working with us to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible. With that said, although we are striving our best to hit these dates, they are estimates. But with our new team and organization, we're confident that as we move forward we will be able to update you with any potential unforeseen delays in a timely manner.

Estimated Plastic Production Dates:

  • Plastic files provided to the manufacturer for digital modifications and preparation for the tooling process - End of November 2022
  • Final approval given to proceed with tooling - Early January 2023 (Before the Chinese New Year Holiday)
  • Chinese New Year Holiday - Middle of January to middle of February 2023
  • Estimated completion date for plastic tooling - End of March 2023
  • Estimated schedule for mass production of plastic components - Early April to end of June 2023

Estimated Print Production Dates

  • Paper files ready for printer - End of February 2023 (After the Chinese New Year Holiday)
  • Final approval given for digital print proofs - Middle of April 2023
  • Final approval given for physical print samples - Middle of May 2023
  • Estimated schedule for mass production of print components - Middle of May to end of June 2023 

 Estimated Shipping and Delivery Dates

  • Estimated completion date for packing and pre-shipping preparations - Middle of July 2023
  • Estimated schedule for ocean travel to destinations - Middle of July to end of August 2023
  • Estimated completion of the customs check - Middle of September 2023
  • Estimated arrival to fulfillment hubs - End of September 2023
  • Estimated delivery window to backers - Middle of October to end of November 2023
     

What about Shipping?

It’s important to us to charge the actual shipping costs. Luckily, shipping costs have been falling as time goes on. With Wave 2 being pushed back, this means that you can expect to pay shipping at a later date than we originally estimated. Now, it will be sometime near the end of Q2 of 2023.

What about the Lupercalia 2022 Resin Kits?

Some of you may have purchased our 2022 Resin Kits. These were originally planned to be included in the Wave 2 shipment. Since the Wave 2 shipment is being pushed back, and these Resin Kits can be delivered much sooner, we feel that it's important to send out what we can as soon as we can.

Customers who purchased our Lupercalia 2022 Resin Kits can expect their Resin Kits to arrive sometime during February of 2023.

We will be doing an update dedicated to this topic. In short, like above, we will be charging shipping and allowing customers to update their shipping details shortly before we send the Lupercalia 2022 Kits out. That way, you will be given the lowest possible price we can get on shipping.

 State of the Game

Being open and transparent with our backers is something Succubus Publishing has always taken pride in. This means being open when things are great, and when things are not so great. But perhaps more importantly, it means keeping you in touch with where we are at and showing off the progress we've been making. 

In this section, you can see a broad overview of where the project is at as of today. 

Our Adventure Book isn’t quite as intimidating as this image, but it certainly feels like it sometimes.

Writing Status

Our new project manager was blown away at all the writing we have done for this project. Middara Act 2 and 3 are gigantic and bring Nightingale’s story to a satisfying end for players, one way or another.

All the prose for every SKU (Product) on this Kickstarter has been written, professionally edited, and is currently being prepared for layout by our graphic designer. This is the final step required to bring the writing portion of Middara to a close.

For those wondering, that's more than 350,000 words worth of narrative prose across Adventure Books and Cards. 

As we’ve been designing, we keep running into odds and ends that require additional prose, so our completion number gets to stay at 99% for a bit. Due to the sheer size of the project, we suspect that it will stay 99% up until February when we hand digital files over to our manufacturer.

I’m personally very pleased with the final results of our giant story. We’ve learned a lot since embarking on this crazy journey. The final story is something that provides some real narrative weight in a board game.

Of course, explaining too much will bring my enthusiasm into spoiler territory, so I’ll refrain.

However, I did want everyone here to get some personal insight from our writer, Kristopher.

Kristopher - Writing Under the Succubus' Whip

Hey Everyone, Kris here.

Weird to think this is my first time in one of these Kickstarter updates, considering anyone who has played our game has probably read a ton from me. I stepped in today to share a little about why these next two acts in our game are so exciting to me, and why I think they'll be awesome for you too!

When the development of Middara started (dang, has it been almost a decade?) there really wasn't anything like it in existence. When figuring out how to structure our story and how to tell it at the game table, we had only tabletop GMing as a guideline.

The end result was—let's call it lots of opportunities to learn from our community. Releasing Act 1 meant a chance to hear lots of great feedback on what worked at the table, and what didn't. It also meant I could get the game into the hands of my gaming group, and play through the whole thing myself.

So when it came time to tackle Act 2 and Act 3 and tell the rest of Nightingale's story, we started the design much wiser to the constraints of our medium as well as the opportunities we intended to seize.

I think when you bust open the box for UM2 and hop into that first narrative moment, you'll find a story that's faster-paced than last time, with the larger story segments broken up and better-integrated with the encounters. Far more of the Intelligent Combatants you'll encounter in Act 2 and Act 3 are intimately tied to the story and setting, and you'll see them move fluidly between narrative and combat segments.

Act 1 gave us a great cast of characters to work with. When it came time to write Act 2 and Act 3, we focused heavily on giving our characters the chance for meaningful change across the story. By creating a story that would react to your gameplay decisions from the concept stage, we can give you control over the futures of our most important characters, with serious story and mechanical consequences to the decisions you make.

I can't wait to hear what choices your group ends up making, and how radically different their world is from the one my own home group ends up playing out. I'm confident that our narrative has no 'correct' path—instead, I hope your group has the same tense deliberation we had in design.

If you've played our first game, you know the stakes are high for our heroes in this adventure. That pressure only gets more intense, as they're brought face to face with the results of their actions. That little side-quest you thought wouldn't matter back in Act 1? We made sure it matters.

Writing an epic fantasy adventure of this scope was a blast for me, particularly since I had a chance to play through the first game myself. There was nothing too awesome to include, even if it meant adding whole new tilesets and Combatants to the game, or expanding the world of Middara in ways the first game didn't allow.

One other thing we learned from Act 1 was just how big an opportunity combat encounters can be to advance the narrative. I still remember how hype my group got during the boss fight at the end of Chapter 2 in the first game and you play through a separated duel encounter to reunite the group. There are some great moments like that throughout Act 1, but for Act 2 we've really stepped things up.

I love the flexibility and power of prose to tell a story—but there's something visceral and awesome about making tactically interesting choices, then coming out with some cool way to turn things around on a dangerous opponent. Our tiles and minis and Combatant cards—they can be part of the narrative too, in a way that makes the players the center of the action. A few lines along with a well-designed encounter can replace pages and pages of text.

I've worked closely with the designers to make sure every encounter is closely tied to the story. I've even designed a few of the encounters myself, with tons of character moments and cool skill checks to make along the way.

I could go on and on, but I'll end with a word about endings. Act 3 brings a conclusion to the story we began in the first chapter of Unintentional Malum, while laying clear foundations for the world going forward. I think there's that voice in every author's head that never wants to let the book get closed.

I made sure the ending we have gives a satisfying payoff for Nightingale's journey over three games and probably a hundreds of hours at your table (or more, if you've got one of those guys who is always arguing about the rules. You know who I'm talking about).

When you get to the end, you'll get to see the lives of our protagonists transformed by the choices you made—hopefully for the better, but that's on you. I know I was sad to see them go when I finished that final scene. I hope you will be too.

I can't wait to see what everyone thinks when you finally get this story in your hands; I think you'll be blown away.

-Kris

 Artwork Status 

 Middara has so many art assets that I got a stern talking to by our new art director; he was flabbergasted at the sheer volume of artwork in the game. Even so, we’ve tackled the vast majority of it all. What's required is still currently being finished up and amounts to Items and Sheets.

We’re smashing out item art at a record pace. The list of outstanding pieces is dwindling as our talented artists are cranking out more and more. I suspect these will be finished by the end of next month (or soon after).

That leaves us with our sheets.

But what are sheets, you might ask?

Well, first, we have to remind you how our tiles work.

In Middara, we have tiles. Tiles are those neat sets of 6x6 inch boards you put out on the table to create unique and interesting locations in a variety of ways. Each tileset has a unique location associated with it.

For example, below is the tileset for the Deep Vaults.

Image of Deep Vaults tiles laid out in a variety of unique combinations.

You can see an example of the tiles above! Don’t worry, these combinations are unique and do not reflect any encounters in our game. That would be a spoiler. But you can see how versatile these tiles can be even with a small amount of them.

We have a fair amount of new tiles in Act 2 and 3. We’ve even created some special tiles that can be used to connect one or more sets to other sets artistically!

Image of the Deep Vault transition tile connecting to the normal White Vault tiles.

These transition tiles can be used to mix and match old sets with new sets in interesting ways. Combined with new tiles for existing sets, this allows us to explore new areas in organic and natural ways.

The way we use tiles in Middara is incredibly important to us and something many other dungeon crawl games you play might not do, so I thought I'd dive into that a bit.

First, when you explore a new tile set in Middara, you will not only be there in our narrative (of course) but also, the monsters that spawn and things you encounter thematically and mechanically are designed to be there.

This isn’t an arbitrary distinction. Instead, we write our story around the monsters and creatures players encounter. This adds some complexity to our designs as designers are required to forge our narrative into each encounter and use a set of assets made specifically for those moments in the story.

When exploring our Deep Vaults, you’ll run into our Deep Vaults monsters! And any other monsters that might be roaming such a place.

The Deep Vaults will prove to be a treacherous place that will test your builds to the fullest.

Okay, so what about all those locations that aren’t random dungeons? You know, like, the fixed locations in the game? This could be a bar, an airship, or perhaps somewhere so unique that they wouldn't have a random set of tiles to depict them?

These are sheets!

The Oppressor concept art, illustration, and sheet layout.
From concept to completion! (note, the sheet on the right is artistically showing unfinished grids from our design phase on the left side of it.)

Sheets are larger than tiles by a substantial amount. Many encounters that feature sheets are very narrative driven moments in Middara. From loyalty quests, to boss fights, these sheets are used to help capture themes and areas in a way tiles cannot.

When combined with diagrams, tiles, and even other sheets, these large fixed areas give us a strong Role Playing Game feel in moments that truly benefit from it the most.

The tiles are all complete. However, our sheets are not. They currently represent the last complex art asset needed to be finished before we can layout everything via our graphic designer and send our files off to the printer.

That of course means…

Miniature Status

Middara has a lot of miniatures. Perhaps it has too many… but I’m happy to say that we’ve completed (or are in the tweaking stage at least) all of the CADs for the entirety of this Kickstarter. Now, we’re nailing down the scale to ensure everything looks good and checking the final composition of each figure before we send them to our chosen manufacturer.

The renders look good. And I’m happy to say that alongside a new full time art director, we’ve been blazing through the massive amount of miniatures needed for this project.

While there are some tweaks that will happen at the manufacturer to ensure that each render looks as good as it can when physically made, the most time consuming work has been completed. 

Design Status

Tilesets, Sheets, Common Combatants, most of the purchasable Items, most of the Disciplines, and any major new effects and rules have been designed and are either ready to share with the community or are nearly there. However, while many encounters have been done, they still need some TLC passes by our team and more playtesting.

This is something we feel that the coming months will be very useful for. We intend to pursue playtesting with our community strongly in November through January as we start to share assets and encounters on our Discord.

Sister Clarius and The Cosmos.

Additionally, bosses and some Variations are being tuned or are still being designed. We’ve taken a lot of feedback on bosses in particular as they have always been a point of our game that could be improved.

Creating awesome boss encounters is a fun and wonderful challenge as a designer. I can’t wait to show off what we’ve come up with. Yet, this always falls into spoiler territory so I suppose only basics could be shared.

But, suffice it to say, bosses have been slowly evolving into experiences more than number crunching. We’ve been working to create moments with real weight in our narrative.

Just Killin', Enhanced Drip

Items that are more unique or are earned as drops in our story are also being developed. However, the artwork is in various stages of completion.

This means that we will be posting a good amount of content on the Discord in the coming month in regards to playtesting and community feedback.

The game wouldn’t be where it was without our dedicated community and their invaluable feedback. This is something we’ve always taken pride in and strive to do what we can to not only fulfill our promises by getting this game to your doorsteps, but also working with you to bring a little bit of everyone’s vision into our game and world.

Show Me Something New!

Okie dokie. How about a Combatant first?

Nin Nin!

The above Wuxia Asesina, Corp Operative is a member of a group in Middara called The Corp. This secretive group is ancient and deeply rooted in Earth’s history as well as Middara’s history. Their origins as an organization are muddled by time and embedded in the real-life Chinese Assasination Corp from Earth. 

Neighboring Elenia (the country in which Middara: Unintentional Malum takes place), is the Brahmanian Empire. Culturally, the portals nearest to Elenia connect to both China and Spain. Hence, we have some cultural mashups that have followed their own Middara history within our world.

This Combatant is an example of that. 

Click to make larger!

The Wuxia Asesina has a lot of tricks up her sleeves to shake up current meta builds. For one, she’s a capable threat at both range and melee. 

When being engaged by an Adventurer with ill-intent, she will attempt to Counter. What makes her Counter special is that she will move before attempting this Counter. For melee builds that depend on making a ton of attacks in a single round this can be devastating.

Furthermore, it means that when engaged in melee, she can work to get herself away from base to base while still retaining her ability to threaten her opponents. 

Or course, many builds can still counter her, but that’s by design. 

From an AI standpoint, the Wuxia Asesina will relocate herself before swapping places with an opponent. Leaving them to the wiles of her allies, or at least away from herself. Then, she will engage targets from range. 

 When tangling with foes, she can also gain a Combatant token called a Shadow Image. This token represents moments where the assassin leaves trails and images in her wake, making it harder to determine where she’ll be when you attack her. 

Finally, the Wuxia Asesina can drop a smoke bomb to obscure ranged attackers to her location. Doing so will gas specific spaces around her and shake up the battlefield for Adventurers. 

This gas isn’t innocuous though. Players should be careful as Adventurers can be inflicted with a new negative status effect called Choked

Combined with their ability to penetrate armor, these Combatants will prove a great challenge for you in our upcoming product.

Plus, look how sick the miniature looks!

 Thematically, like many of our other Combatants, the Wuxia Asesina is part of a larger and more fleshed out set of miniatures in our product. You can expect to see other figures that compliment them.  

Corp Operative Fennu Tank
Corp Operative Shenlong Song Mage
Corp Operative Shēntǐ Manipulator

If you’d like to check out what these miniatures do mechanically, make sure you’re on our Discord. We will be releasing them in the Beta Test channel over the coming weeks.

Discipline time!

Conduits have always been something we loved. The idea of turning yourself into a horrific monster is really cool. But, we do concede that it wasn’t a Discipline that many saw as desirable in the meta. To help address this, we’ve utilized some higher level Disciplines in Assemblage to help make Conduits scale in a more efficient way. 

Let’s talk about Item Retention! This Discipline allows players to gain a benefit from their equipped gear and some other Discipline choices while in Conduit Form. This will help players mix some of their unique build choices into the forms they decide to take.

Combined with a plethora of new Conduit Forms, players who love Conduit Summoning should now find some great mid to late game options when playing Middara.

Form Control is another higher level Discipline that synergizes with Conduits. It allows players to take a riskier Conduit form by providing them with an ability to quickly switch back to their Adventurer form if they need it. 

Additionally, while in Conduit Form, they can spend SP to re-roll dice. 

This ability should change the meta around Conduits and their use cases in both Act 1 and later Acts of Middara.  

Let’s see some poison buffs! 

Plenty of people love inflicting poison. However, as the game scaled, poison would naturally drop off due to its lack of damage. We’ve fixed that. Now, using a variety of disciplines, players will be able to bring poison and all of its underhanded glory against our stronger monsters without concern. 

After all, great is the weapon that cuts on its own. Or so I’m told…

Visions of Gelsemine is a Keystone Discipline that Subterfuge and Cruor users can dip into to inflict Poison on their Attacks. Additionally, it will cause additional damage if a target is already inflicted with Poison!

So cool.

But that’s not all…

Combined with Magic Bacteremia, you can increase the amount of times you can inflict poison on a target! 

This will give your poison status effects an average and will prove to really increase the amount of damage that players can inflict over time using poison. 

What about new ways to heal? Scaling the ability to heal for some builds has been a challenge. As players progress into later stages of Middara, monsters can deal some serious damage. So, we need to be able to heal accordingly.

Hematophagia is a new way for Cruor builds to heal while also keeping our ability to heal performance based. This Discipline isn’t for the type of player who wants to sit back and heal. Hematophagia is for those who want to get up close and personal, striking down their opponents while also sustaining themselves for further murder in the process.

 What about Magic? 

We have a plethora of ways to augment Magic. Using Mana Surge, a caster can increase or even add magic damage to spells that they cast by using their symbol abilities on equipment they have equipped. 

This can even be used on spells that wouldn’t normally deal damage. 

You can’t gish me hard enough. 

Meanwhile…

Mystic Contiguity can be used to augment casters who are daring enough to put themselves close to their targets. But perhaps more importantly, it can offset rolling a Skull on your empower dice when casting a spell. 

Both of the above Keystone Disciplines can be utilized effectively by casting builds, melee builds, and even some ranged builds. 

These are great examples of the versatility you can expect with Keystone Disciplines. We’re so excited to see what you guys on the Discord server end up building with some of the coming Disciplines.

A painting by Whiplash on our Discord! Click to see their work.

Thanks for taking the time to read through our update. We intend to keep in touch and get back to some fun updates and Discord content soon. We will be working hard in November to share designs and encounters on our Discord server.

Meanwhile, we will be funneling all the spoiler free content to Kickstarter.

Till next time.

Alex Hansen
Alex Hansen



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