First, I would say I am about 80% done with the writing. As this is a bit different from-- and learns from-- HOW there are tweaks and edits and additions. Some of those additions include adding in some additional and deeper character creation option (cultures) and spelling out tactical combat means more writing. I also want to add some brief mercenary and skullduggery missions. Rescue a hostage, kidnap a merchant, protect a delivery, fight in a pit, steal a wand, etc. Just small mission/adventure kick starts for a few silver more.
Sure I could certainly take the easy way out and just zip out core rules with no setting/cultures content, but in play testing folks actually enjoy the use of culture as a character creation hook. Don't worry, it is not mandatory to use cultures, just added chrome/depth/ options--and double don't worry you will not get the frustrated fantasy writer text overkill.
One email I got asked why not include magic and combat all in one book? Good question and 2 reasons:
1) It will take longer to wait to get it all done, and I think you and I have both waited a long time already.
2) I think there is an opportunity for a no/low magic game to be played.
Those who have and play HOW will be able to add magic in easily to BLADES if you like immediately before the Black Magic book comes out--and with the Magi Carta, there are a lot of spell options already available.
So how does BLADES vary from HOW specifically?
1) No EN stat. HOW plays more heroic fantasy and B&BM is meant to be more gritty/ S&S. No EN stat changes the feel appropriately for a low magic setting.
2) Revised weapon table
3) Only Humans as characters
4) Clarified tactical combat/facings
5) Light setting of Zemya
6) Cultures as character creation detail opportunity
7) Skills have a simplified 3 tier rank system: Inexperienced (I) Trained (T) Expert (E)
BLADES will have a quick conversion page for HOW skills/spell casting, etc. so one does not supplant the other and they are compatible with little issue.
The work continues...