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Report from the Southlands: The Editorial Side

Report from the Southlands: The Editorial Side

Southlands ScarabGreetings, Southlanders!

In just a few short months, the Southlands sourcebook and all the project’s shiny add-ons will be in your hands, at your tables, and ready to provide your gaming groups with unlimited adventures beneath the pitiless sun. We can’t wait to see what GMs and players do with the myriad story hooks, rich traditions, dastardly villains, and brave heroes—all inspired by the Arabian Nights and ancient Egypt—that the project will offer.

But! Before all that goodness can happen, the book has to wind its way through the editorial process even before it heads to layout, proofing, and printing. And that editorial process is where I come in.

I’ve been working with portions of the core Southlands text for about the past three months, and I have to say, it’s been an incredibly fun ride. I’ve taken tours of the River Kingdom of Nuria Natal, the Dominion of the Wind Lords, the High Jungles, the perilous East and West, the Abandoned Lands, and the Southern Fringe. I’ve explored the strange traditions of lotus magic and combat divinations, and I’ve learned the ways of the proud Lion Kingdom of Omphaya and the Narumbeki legions. I’ve even peered into the disturbing lives of the insectoid tosculi, which build hives that engulf ruins and thriving communities alike.

It seems like every time I start editing a new page, I encounter something that makes me go: wow! And then the wheels in my head start turning, I start thinking about how I could incorporate these fantastic ideas into my own games—and then I pull myself back to earth, because I’ve got a job to do!

Indeed, editing something as rich and complex as the Southlands core book requires oiling a lot of moving parts. So far, I’ve received the core text in two large chunks, and so early on I spent a lot of time just reading through and getting my head around all the wonderful material. Once that was done, I pulled out my trusty magnifying glass (OK, so it’s really just a laptop) and got to work editing the copy for content and clarity. Of course, I’m also turning a careful eye toward those little cosmetic things that can, when attended lovingly, really make a manuscript sing.

Even though Southlands is a campaign-setting book at heart, it still contains quite a bit of rules elements, from archetypes to feats, traits, spells, magic items, and more. Luckily, Kobold-in-Chief Wolfgang Baur has also poured over the book’s rules elements and added his own tweaks and notations where needed. It’s been my job to turn a careful eye to these considerations and make my own tweaks and notations.

In many cases, our Word comments spawn email conversations about where a bit of extra design might be needed, or how to keep the book’s archetypes open content, or other logistical concerns. Wolf and I have been working very closely with designers Ben McFarland and Brian Suskind to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

In fact, I’ve been in close contact with Ben and Brian throughout the editorial process. At the moment, we’re having a very helpful and productive conversation about the order of the book’s materials. We’ve all thrown out ideas for rounding out each chapter’s content and for where material should appear in each chapter, and the book is going to flow more smoothly and naturally because of it. All the kobolds involved in the project are wonderful teammates, and for that I’m thankful.

Right now, I’m in the final stages of editing, co-developing, and indexing the book’s main content. Then, it’ll be on to working with the stretch-goal material, checking in about any loose ends, and giving each portion of the manuscript a final look. Somewhere in that process, I’ll start turning over chunks of the book for layout.

And you all know what comes next—pulp adventure or bust!

—Amanda Hamon Kunz, editor and co-developer, core Southlands text

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