Access is one of the more jealously guarded privileges in hierarchical systems, and social standing reinforced status, but also kept the big dogs ideally focused on the issues they need to be concerned with. Details of policy and realm health, maurauding fae raids, and magical curses. The important stuff.

The rules below are a revision of a new insertion to the Dragon Heresy set, and seemed like a good idea when in my recent streaming play the 1st-level characters seemed bound and determined to head off to see the hajarl or a merchant prince personally. I deflected it in play by having a lower-rank NPC, who happened to be related to the merchant prince, take the call instead. Why pick up dice if you don’t have to?

But some sort of guideline for whether or not an influential person will take the PCs request seemed wise.

Plus: if you’re wondering, this is basically an equivalent of “you get XP for gold.” The wealthier and more successful you are, the more ships, fortresses, and troops you commend, the nicer your armor, weapons, and clothing, the more you look the part of the mighty hero. It’s also a good way to look at how a sheltered offspring of a powerful noble might be a 1st-level or lower character, but still be worthy of dealing with seriously: good Persuasion due to charisma and practice, plus tremendous status and resources. Suddenly not all lords have to be 15th level fighters or mages (though many will be)!

The rules here aren’t final. I may flip it around a bit and instead make the Social Standing a passive check, and recast this as a 2d10 or 3d6 roll for a “reaction” with relative standing as a modifier (so it’s a single, player-facing roll instead of a contest). A passive score will also allow a quick comparison: “no, you’re more than 20 lower than Lord Robert; the best way to get the hajarl’s ear is to approach Lady Alina, the newly-appointed jarl of one of his vassal towns; she’s a jarl, but of lower standing and might treat more equally with you, and SHE can bring your petition before Robert.”

None of the concepts below should replace good roleplay, but they will help guide things. I may yet flatten things out a bit; pretty much anyone could step in front of the Thing/Althing to speak, and the kind of disparity in social standing was a continental thing more than a viking thing. But the core is there, and this basic concept is easily portable into other games: apparently this works out fairly well using ACKS’ native level tables as well.

So there we go. Here’s the Dragon Heresy version of “XP for gold.”

As the Kickstarter winds down, today I’m going to write rules for “flyting,” a ritual poetic contest of insults. That will complete the “alternate rules work” that I want to do to provide options for conflict and conflict resolution that don’t involve pointed sticks. Between flyting and grappling and access restrictions found below, there are plenty of ways to challenge the party without relying n always breaking out weapons.

From here, I will get busy with writing “Identify Fiend or Foe” advice for my monsters, and ensuring that some of the “I’ll do this later” parts of the ms are finally complete.  Continue reading “Dragon Heresy Rules Excerpt: Social Standing”

Greetings, fellow Torengur! We’re entering the third weekend of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter, and things look pretty good.

Another Skjald-hirð Joins the Battle!

We had a great day yesterday, driven largely by another stalwart joining the ranks of the Skjald-hirð. He’s asked for a sweet, sweet paint job on his shield, too. Dark blue background, with a gold torc, one boar-head, one deer-head, holding the Ingwaz rune between them. All of these symbolize Freyr, who is Yngwi Lifegiver in Dragon Heresy.

This is a personal shield project I just finished, and except the boss (which I used because I had it; it’s too heavy and too large by far), is a good example of what the shields will look like. The heads here are dragon heads. I can do boars, ravens, dragons, bears, stags, and wolves.

The dragon-torc of house Iyiling
The dragon-torc of house Iyiling

The ansuz-rune is the rune of the Asfolk martial arts school at which I’m learning viking-style fighting. You can see the school and me throwing an axe here in the designer’s notes video.

Progress

In the background things are moving in terms of production. I got the first edits from Vince in the mail yesterday, looked them over, and found them worthy. He’s tightening up my language and poking at holes in the thought process.

The entire pre-production team: layout, editing, and indexing, is now being brought in on the communications so we can parallel process the assembly and finalization of the book.

That being said, there are things yet to do, by me, from a writing perspective.

  • I’ve got a neat idea for a way to differentiate between combat prowess and reputation and status. Think of it as an alternate take on “gold for XP” from the old-school days.
  • I am determined to write and add a small section on flyting – a poetic ritual exchange of insults common in viking lore and culture that provides another avenue to victory other than murder-hoboism. Between fisticuffs, weapons, grappling, and flyting, there are many options for dispute and challenge resolution in Dragon Heresy, which is outstanding.
  • Finally, I’m going through the monster section and adding “Identify Fiend or Foe” blocks, where the GM will be provided suggestions for tactically useful elements that can be known about monsters and other foes based on background and skill level.

All of this will be worked into the book, and much of it is already budgeted in terms of space and layout, so that won’t change the basic 256-page book size.

Stretch Goals

As of me typing this, the campaign is just shy of $700 off the $10,000 “more content” stretch goal. If we pass it, I’ll send out a survey to backers with some options of what I can include, which will push the size of the book upward a bit.

Once the ship is completed, what fine adventures we will have!I’m not quite ready to formally re-arrange my published stretch goals yet . . . but some quotes came in from printers that were very compelling. Very.

This has led me to look at options for standard and deluxe printing for the Jarl and Styðja tiers that may take a few more days to lock down.

I’ll tell you this, though: the numbers $12,000 and $16,000 are very significant. There’s another point at about $14,500 that’s significant to me as a publisher but not so much to y’all as backers.

I’m iterating with a few different folks on super-cool things to add for your pledge to the $100 tier. Faux-leather covers, or custom slip-cover, or just a deluxe printing with a dust jacket are all being considered. No decisions yet, and being that it’s bearing down hard on quitting time in the EU (all of the super-aggressive bids are from either the UK or Latvia) on a Friday, I might not be able to confirm much before early next week.

But I’m looking for ways to make both the Jarl and Styðja levels even more appealing. Skjald-hirð backers will get anything the Styðja level gets, of course!

The Final Countdown

This it is, and we’re into single digits. Now it’s in the hands of the Norns.

We’re tracking to around $14,000 if things keep on as they’ve been and we hit an uptick the last few days, which is typical. I still hope we can see enough acceleration to hit that offset print goal – I won’t lie to you: I dream of holding that book as specified in my hands!

For now, have a great weekend, and may all your raids be profitable!

This is a great day for GURPSDay. We hit 100 blogs on the roster, with the addition of D Ripton’s Dungeon Fantasy blog. Woo hoo!

Furthermore, fans of SJGames, GURPS, Dungeon Fantasy, the DFRPG, Kromm, and maybe me can see Sean and I talk the DFRPG today on Geek Gab, at 3:30pm CST.

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic.

Thursday is GURPSDay, and here's the blog roll for the week ending April 5 2018We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.

Final Note: Moe Lane, Patrick Burroughs, and Merlin Avery: your blogs are not pulling. Call the office.
Continue reading “100 Blogs! GURPSDay Summary Apr 13, 2018 – Apr 19, 2018”

Sean Punch, also known as Dr. Kromm, works for Steve Jackson Games. He joins Geek Gab’s Game Night (during the day!) along with me (Douglas Cole) to talk about Dungeon Fantasy RPG and Cole’s new adventure for the setting, Hall of Judgment!

Play a berserker or viking warrior in Dragon Heresy, a fast-paced game that brings viking spirit and grit to Fifth Edition with new rules, a complete setting, and tons of challenges.Dragon Heresy on Twitch

This is a bit of an experiment. I’ve never streamed on Twitch, but I’m giving it a shot and streaming Dragon Heresy tonight!

The folks at Roles to Astonish, a newish channel, have agreed to come on and play Dragon Heresy with me as the GM.

Roles to Astonish: Developer Spotlight – Dragon Heresy

We’ll be walking through a first level starter adventure that I’m writing to support the Dragon Heresy release. Yes, if it’s done by the time I move the Dragon Heresy PDF to final form and to print (July) backers will get it for free in PDF.

Right now, it’s more a skeleton (ahem) than anything else, but I’ve done free-form play with Dragon Heresy before, and it works out just fine.

Come check out the game! It starts at 5pm Central Time, and will go for up to four hours.

At 4pm today CST we’ll hit precisely the midpoint of the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter campaign.

How are we doing? Pretty well.

Well, I mean, if we just wanted to fund, then we’re doing great, and it’s hard to argue with 235% funding! But that’s not really what I want, nor do I think it’s what you want either.

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

(apologies)

What I think we’d all like to see is that offset print run at $16,000. That will make an amazing book.

On the one hand, if the back half of the campaign mirrors the front, well, we’ve got a shot at it.

On the other hand, my personal projections show us hitting about $14,500, which is fairly close, but not quite there.

A daily pledge velocity of $400 or more (with an uptick at the end) will get us there.

That’s maybe two extra pledges per day than we’re getting, so some social media help as we round the halfway point would always help. Share on Twitter, Gab, Facebook, Google+, or wherever gamers gather. Share the podcasts – they’re good even beyond the context of Dragon Heresy. Mention the book at your FLGS and tell them there’s a retail level available. (Actually, let me help with that. I will make a flyer available sometime today you can email or print out and take with you.) Share my Discord Channel link and come by and ask questions or chat.

Streaming/Play Example on Rolls to Astonish

I’m going to try to try something later today, and record an actual-play example with five 5th level characters starting out in the city of Northwatch.

I’m writing an introductory micro-setting that will eventually see release. It might even see release before the final PDF of the Introductory Set goes out, in which case backers will get it free in PDF. Right now, it’s looking like six or eight different potential issues the PCs can get involved in.

No linear script, no follow the rails. Just things going on that need the PCs to help deal with them. Stay tuned for more!

In the USA, April 15th is Tax Day, the day by which one must file their income tax return

From right now until April 15th ends, I will offer a special “Tax Shield” offer on the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter.

If you pledge at the Skjald-hirð level between now and the end of April 15th, you will receive a $50 credit in Backerkit once the campaign ends.

These are pretty close to what the skjald-hirð level gets. The one on the right is my new personal shield, with an extra-large boss I happened to have on hand due to a mistake of the “measure twice, cut once” variety early on in my career.

The one on the left is about 31″ in diameter, good for someone about 5′ – 5’6″, and will be donated to a charity fund-raiser. I’ve got another shield in the works that’s a lower-level model than these (no rawhide edging, but yes stitching) that will also be donated.

A Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter backer was asking about something I mentioned in one of the podcasts I was on this last weekend, which also appeared in one of the playtests from way back: The Runic Berserker, also known as the Berserker Path of Galdureiði: The Path of Wrathful Power.

The Path of Galdureiði is not in the Introductory Set. Yet. If we hit the $10K stretch goal, it will be one of the options for “More Content” that backers will get to vote on. It’s only about 550 words, and the stretch goal adds 10,000, so it’s definitely not the only thing that can happen.

BERSERKER: PATH OF GALDUREIÐI

You feel the pulse of the earth, the surge of the flames, the bite of winter’s fury, and the vast power of the storms. Those forces are not quiet, and the world is angry. You mirror that passion, channeling the world’s energy as your own through affinity with the true runes of power.

When you choose this path at 3rd level, you learn to channel your own rage and the energy of the world around you through a set of magically attuned runestones or runic tattoos that you keep on your person. The runes focus your energy and allow you to channel that harnessed power despite the red haze of rage through which you see the world. You cannot use the powers without these arcane symbols, so Berserkers of this path will work the stones into their clothing or weapons to prevent losing them through misfortunate accident or the willful malice of an enterprising thief. You may also permanently brand or mark the runes on your body with the aid of a 10th or higher level arcanist who has knowledge of the rune; a 10th level Berserker can help inscribe all of them.

THE RUNES OF POWER

The runes are magical sigils as well as letters, and each has one or more associations—with a god or goddess, a concept, a thing, or an action. The meaning is always layered and fluid.

The runes used for the Path of Galdureiði are not all the runes that exist, but upon choosing the path at 3rd level, the Berserker gains familiarity with some of the common meanings and methods of channeling the runes to invoke certain effects and powers. As her understanding and attunement increase, she obtains the ability to “reverse” the runes and achieve more difficult or subtle effects.

THE PRIMAL RUNES

Powerful but basic, these runes are the first that Berserkers use to focus their rage.

  • Hagall. The power of storms to destroy. Associated with both lightning and thunder damage.
  • Isa. Ice and the power of winter. Associated with cold damage.
  • Kaunaz. Fire and torchlight. Associated with fire damage.
  • Raido. The change in circumstances that breaks a deadlock; travel and movement. Associated with control damage (grappling).
  • Sowulo. The radiance of the sun and the boon of salvation through the gods. Associated with radiant damage.
  • Sverdaz. The sword of kings; another warrior’s rune. Associated with slashing damage.
  • Telewaz. The thrust spear that justly slays; the warrior’s rune and sigil of Ziu. Associated with piercing damage.
  • Thurisaz. Magical force and the power of the giants; Donnar’s hammer. Associated with force damage.
  • Uruz. Strength and the power to smash. Associated with bludgeoning damage.

Rune Strike

When you choose the Path of Galdureiði at 3rd level, when you rage, each turn you may, as a bonus action, invoke the power of a rune at a foe whom you have struck with a melee weapon. When you do so, the foe takes 2d4 damage (or control, if you invoke Raido), with the damage type being based on one of the primal runes. Once you have chosen the rune, it infuses your rage and persists until your rage ends. When your rage does cease, you must make a DC 12 Constitution save, or suffer an additional level of exhaustion (as described in Conditions). If you rage again, you may choose a different rune. Armor and frantic defense both apply normally to the rune strike damage.

 

I was on a lot of podcasts this week. All different. Our discussion with Eric F on “martial arts in old-school games” was a different type of discussion than the “get deep into the mechanical weeds” with Chris S. Matt and David were both very interested in specifics on shields, while the second part of my discussion with Derek was about getting into, and staying into, the game design space.

A friend of mine told me that he was impressed I managed to cover substantially the same general territory with enough differences to make each podcast worth listening to without being repetitive.

Of course, that has a lot to do with my hosts . . .

Podcast Palooza

Each of these is pretty worth listening to, even if I say so myself.

First, I was on The Established Facts with Derek Knutsen-Frey, whom I’ve gotten to know through the IGDN. We had a long chat divided in two parts: a bunch on Dragon Heresy, and then 45 minutes on game publishing as a business.

The always-awesome James Introcaso hosted me for a while on Table Top Babble, and we mostly talked about Dragon Heresy

Chris Sniezak and I got deep into the depths of the game mechanics

Jason Hobbs had me and Eric Farmer on at the same time, and our take was more broad. Can you do “martial arts” in Old-School systems? What does that even mean?

Matt Finch and I had a great chat, and he was absolutely enthusiastic about the materials, construction, and use of period weaponry, and egged me on effectively.

Finally, I was on with Nerdarchy Dave for a live discussion and chat, and I had a great time talking with him and taking questions

This week’s GURPSDay is brought to you by Skaði, Goddess of Winter (and cross-country skiiing). Why? Because parts of my state, just north of me, are expecting over a foot of snow. It’s not April 12, it’s January 102. My goodness.

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic.

Thursday is GURPSDay, and here's the blog roll for the week ending April 5 2018We’re currently drawing content from 99 blogs, thanks to Jon F. Zeigler being back on the list. We are so very, very close to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.

Final Note: Moe Lane, Patrick Burroughs, and Merlin Avery: your blogs are not pulling. Call the office.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Apr 6, 2018 – Apr 12, 2018”