Fontocalypse 2023

Hello Burners,
Today I speak as a herald of a coming apocalypse—the Fontocalypse, in fact—and I come to you with a tale of woe and a plea for help.

A Colophon for the Postscript World
If you’ve read our colophons, you’ve seen the software, hardware and fonts we use to create our books—Bauer Bodoni, Caliban, Post Antiqua and Post Medieval in Burning Wheel, for example. You may have noticed that we switched from Quark Xpress to Adobe InDesign back in 2004, and since then all of our books have been laid out in the InDesign environment using Postscript fonts. 17 years ago, I worked in the printing industry and Postscript fonts were seen as the industry standard. The safest, most reliable and highest quality fonts, they were designed by Adobe itself. Even printers insisted that all documents be submitted to them using Postscript fonts. So the choice to use them seemed trivial, perhaps even smart.

TBH, Fonts Suck
In the intervening two decades since we first published Burning Wheel, a new font type has emerged known as Open Type. And, ngl, OTF fonts are nice. But I never saw the point in converting our BW texts to OTFs because we were using the Adobe industry standard and, as those of you in the print industry know, switching font types is always a huge headache. There are dozens of variants of font faces in Postscript alone. Switching out a font, even only from one foundry to another, causes the most dreaded of problems in the text: re-rag. Meaning, words shift position from line to line. And if just one word from one page flows onto the next page, the effect can fuck up the whole layout and cause poor me and Dro a massive, collective headache as we try to keep our beautiful pages intact.

The BWHQ Method
By the time BWHQ ships a book to the press, the interior is a delicate balance of readability, information density, art and page count. The smallest change to the text—like when we correct errata—must be carefully undertaken so as not to destabilize the layout and cause re-rag and overflow.

The Font Horseman of the Apocalypse
Why am I going on about fonts and layout? What is this Fontocalypse of which I speak? Well my friend, in 2023 Adobe shall deprecate all Postscript fonts. Postscript fonts simply will not load into InDesign (it’s already happening in Photoshop). We will not be able to open our docs to look at the layout—let alone make edits—without buying (ugh) and remapping (uuughhh) all of the fonts in each of our press-ready layout files.

Essentially, our books will be forever trapped—uneditable—in the last version of the PDFs we created in 2022 or earlier.

FML (Font My Life)
Which brings me to say to you (as I lean on your shoulder and look into your soul with my Thousand-Yard Stare): Fuck. My. Life.

I had to change some fonts in the last printing of Mouse Guard—the book, the cards, the screen, etc.—and it was a massive headache, amounting to months of work. So I’m looking at a future where, in order to do a reprint with errata, work stops on new projects for months while I beat my head bloody re-laying out hundreds of pages of text…to make changes only to a dozen pages or so. Because it’s not just a matter of clicking a button to switch a font. If the font doesn’t match the exact character spacing of the current version (and I can’t imagine they will), I have to rejigger all of the art in each book to make the text flow properly.

Again: F…M…L. I do not want to spend my days doing this…I want to make new games, damn it. Please don’t send me back to the font mines, Adobe Who Bears the Lash…

There are a couple of low effort solutions:

  1. Essentially, do nothing. We can reprint Torchbearer, Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard in their current iterations like most publishers do and make no changes. But this becomes untenable once we need to change manufacturer, origin, printing or copyright information.
  2. Or let TB2E, BW and MG go out of print after their final 2022 print runs sell out.

Neither of these solutions seem satisfying to me.

The Plan
So what can we do? you might ask. Well, I have a plan: Have all reprint files set up as press-ready PDFs before the stroke of midnight on December 31st, 2022 (because at 00:00 January 1st, 2023, all my InDesign docs turn to Times New Roman-shaped pumpkins).

Your Kind Assistance
Can you help? YES. Yes, you can. In the next five months (August to December 2022), you can help by submitting errata to us:

  1. here in this thread
  2. to this email
  3. or to our errata form

By submitting, you help us future-proof PDFs of Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard and Torchbearer (M&M and DW are mostly fine), so if we reprint we’ll have up-to-date material in there, not just last year’s PDF. And if we do this update, it should at least buy us some time to assess how bad the Fontocaplyse really is.

You can also spread the word to the community and let them know that the Font Horseman bears down on us. And if you’re a publisher or a print-industry professional, I’d love to hear about your own solutions to the upcoming Fontocalypse.

The End Is Nigh
To paraphrase Nick Cave: When all your fonts have vanished and you must typeset them again, just remember, that death is not the end. Not the end…you’ll spend eternity, typesetting them again.

Thank you for reading.


Cracks knuckles


To work then…


(Gasp! A title!) :fire: :fire: :fire:


It is potentially replacing one change burden with a different change burden but Scribus can—based on the use cases I’m aware of—handle Postscript fonts and PS files without introducing oddities.

As it’s made by part of the FOSS community, the backwards compatibility might well remain indefinitely; so, might take some learning and tweaking, but if you replaced InDesign with Scribus, you could keep updating the files you have.


For Mouse Guard 2nd ed. I think, we’ve found all errata (2nd Edition Errata). :innocent:


I think (I hope), I incorporated those items into the last printing.


There is a handful of typos in the Codex I’ve been meaning to write up. Looks like this is the time!


Wow, we used Altus (?) page maker(something adobe bought out) In high school for the yearbook.

I am a bit surprised there isn’t more pushback to delay this change on adobe from industry.
but i guess ‘business needs’ and monopoly combine for some pretty devastating results for small publishers

I’ll try and spot some errors

Tragedy of the Commons on page 155 of Gold Revised.

Does Grief simply replace Will for the Body of Argument, or do you use Grief as the whole BoA and not test?

Are the collected typos available somewhere? So we won’t report everything double and triple…

Torchbearer Player’s Deck
Condition Card Illustrations

  • The illustrations don’t match those in other places, e.g. the GM screen. SIck and Injured are switched, Afraid is a new illustration (which looks more angry than afraid). Suggestion: Use the same illustrations as on the GM screen.

  • Also, the drawings have different colors. Most look dark green,Hungry & Thirsty looks black or at least much darker green. It’s not a printing issue, as the titles and borders look the same on all cards. Suggestion: Use the same color for all illustrations.

  • Finally, it looks a little odd that Hungry & Thirsty as well as Sick have smaller figures. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. Suggestion: Make all the same size, and let them all stand directly on the bottom lettering (“Condition Card”).

Burning Wheel Codex
p.166 Enmity Clause
“An enemy is not required directly oppose the character.” → Suggestion: Insert “to”

(I’ll be back for more)

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The Burning Wheel / Fight
Throw Away The Whole Man

The obstacle charts for Block and Counterstrike disagree in relation to Throw Person. In the defensive actions’ charts this is listed as a dash interaction, but Throw Person’s chart lists versus tests (pp. 443–444, p.450).

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Torchbearer Lore Master’s Manual

p. 42 Mudra of Fate
Last sentence: “… if the recipient attempts test” → enter “a” or “the” or “to”

p. 73 Fire Flowers
“Cost and inventory is for one 1d3+1 charges.” → delete “one”

p. 75 Donkey / Horse / Mule / Ox
“…can carry a rider or 1 sk of cargo.” → explain what “sk” means before the list starts or with every use. (It won’t suffice to explain it on first use because it’s an alphabetical list and people will jump to entries without reading everything else first.)

p. 88 Krazzik
Needs clarification: What happens if you don’t have the coin you are to put in the bank? Can you substitute with a different one, are you lucky, out of the game, both?

p. 43 Poison Mind
“Manipulator tests to for goading someone …” → delete “to” probably

p. 142 Food and Drink
“A traveler on this journey must pay a toll of 2: two rations of food and water will suffice if they have it.” → Unclear. Two portions of each, food and drink, or two portions total and it must be one of each, so both required elements are there?

p. 161 Occupying Existing Structures
“The game master my designate an area …” → replace with “may”

p. 164 Base Procedures
“See the Base Activity section” → this does not exist, at least not as a section. (There is a “Base Activity roll margin of failure” table in the “Base Detection” section.)

p. 166 Shelters and Housing
“Locations with wood and stone are listed the Base Locations heading.” → enter “under”

p. 169 Defenses
The “Walls” table row is missing Obs

p. 170 Base Visibility
Unclear: Do the free caches of 2 sk per player also count as structures for visibility or not?

p. 172 Caught napping
“4D and +1D per additional person then divided by half rounded up.” → I don’t think it means what you think it means. Do you mean “divided by two”, or “halved”?

p. 215 “Reset”
On pp. 212 and 217 it’s called “Credit Reset”, so maybe call it the same here.

p. 217 Coffers
“marking or erasing boxes” → It’s the first mention of boxes and the reader won’t understand until later. Maybe explain.

p. 220 Steading
“(see the Economics chapter)” → This actually IS the Economics chapter. Do you mean “the Newtown chapter”?

p. 221 Settlement Journal
Home traits are missing. (Maybe they’re not meant to be here, but I’m missing them anyway.)

Days until fontocalypse: 17


Super interesting hearing about the process. For some reason I figured you would be typesetting this entirely in LaTeX. I’m not in the industry, but I’m quite fond of LaTeX. From what I gather, it’s used primarily in academia, and more so by mathematicians.

Anyways, I’ll list the errors I’ve found…

Torchbearer: Scholar’s Guide

  • Page 112 – Successful Telling of Tales Events Table
    • Row 1, Column 2 – Change They player may... to The player may...

Hi Chloe, we’re working on this now. Are you referring to a discrepancy between the book and the scripting sheet? Or something else?

Actually, can you look at the title page (3) and tell us which printing you have? The most recent printing is 9th with Revisions.

Hey all. Luke and I are inputting changes. If you have anything you want to submit, now is the time or hold your peace (until we come begging again).

Today is the day!

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Hit us with them please!

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I read the two Torchbearer main books before I learned about the fontocalypse, so unfortunately I didn’t write down errata. But I remember that it was only one or two typos in each of these books.
The only two (maybe) issues I found when re-reading are the following:

Scholar’s Guide
p. 7 Reading this Book
“… read this book, but focus on the Scholar’s Guide, Safe Havens and Calamity sections.”
These three secions are the whole book (apart from the Reference section), so this sentence left me puzzled what “focus on” means. Focus on everything?

Dungeoneer’s Handbook
p. 44 Belief, Creed, Goal and Instinct
In the Heading, as well as on the character sheet and in the next chapter, these four character aspects are listed in this order: Belief, Creed, Goal, Instinct. Only in the text on pages 44/45, they’re listed as Belief, Creed, Instinct, Goal. Suggestion: Exchange the Goal and Instinct paragraphs to match the heading, etc.

I guess that I only found these two minor quibbles is a good sign. :slightly_smiling_face: These are well-edited books.

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My second printing copy Block chart has “–” for the Ob against Throw Person, same for Counter Strike. Throw Person, meanwhile, lists Block and Counterstrike as “vs Skill”. It is the same in my third printing copy, except Throw Person’s Ob against Counterstrike says “vs ÷ Skill,” which is quite nice.

So it seems that if I script Block, and you script Throw Person, I am expecting to test nothing (dash interaction), and you are expecting me to test my skill to oppose you (you’re vs my skill).

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