Gaming Ballistic started as a blog in late 2012, and then became a company in its own right in October 2016, as the company formally launched its first product, Dungeon Grappling.

This year, 2017, marks the first full year of the company’s operation. It still has but one person doing all of the administrative work: me. And thus far, Gaming Ballistic exists as a vehicle to deliver Douglas’ game ideas, but with luck and planning, that will change.

Gaming Ballistic is a producer of games and entertainment.

2017: Executive Summary

The year started off with a frenzy of activity completing promised deliveries for Dungeon Grappling, the first product Kickstarted and delivered by Gaming Ballistic. All rewards were delivered ahead of schedule – physical product was 3 months early, PDFs were delivered a month early. Not bad for the first Kickstarter for GB.

The Gaming Ballistic website and blog site were completely revamped, and look and work very well. A lot of below-the-waterline work on several projects consumed most of the company’s time and money in 2017 to no real outcome in terms of “product that GB can sell.”

GB did hit GenCon as part of the Independent Game Designer’s Network booth, and I was also there as part of a reward package for backing the Dungeon Fantasy RPG by Steve Jackson Games. That was inspiring but expensive, with relatively little to show for it in terms of market presence or sales. I did, however, write and run a scenario whose purpose was to demonstrate Dungeon Grappling. Fifteen people from ages 10-50 played through that scenario to good success.

The combination of leveraging some of the Dragon Heresy background material and the existing write-ups allowed GB to write and launch its second Kickstarter, for a linear demonstration adventure eventually called “Lost Hall of Tyr.” That Kickstarter also successfully funded, and primary rewards were again delivered three months ahead of schedule.

Expanding into physical stuff a bit, GB also researched and constructed mostly-authentic Viking-style shields to match the Dragon Heresy theme. A single shield was sold at the end of the year, which capped off a lot of building and trial-and-error to get the process down. Larger plans for such crafting have been scoped out.

The year ended with the return of certain parts of the Dragon Heresy manuscript to my primary control, and new plans being laid for that product that will hopefully bear fruit in 2018.

Continue reading “Ballistic’s Report for 2017”

DM Guild Logo links to DM Guild on OBS/DriveThru

Rob Conley over at Bat in the Attic just put up an important post for those considering using the DM’s Guild as a vector for publishing.

Here it is, complete with provocative title!

OBS Content Program is terrible and it is now not just an opinion

Basically, the net/net of it is that if you publish in the DM’s Guild, you’re basically doing a bit of retroactive Work for Hire. You can reuse your own stuff, but only on the DM’s Guild. Others can re-use your stuff, but only on the DM’s Guild. If you want to incorporate pre-written or pre-published content into your DM’s Guild work . . . don’t, because the content on DM’s Guild is exclusive to the DM’s Guild.

I had considered using DM’s Guild as a vector for my Dragon Heresy work, but even without Rob’s recent clarifications, the “no Kickstarters” rule scared me away, as I wanted to develop my own look and feel and layout and fill my stuff with cool art. Can’t do that on DM’s Guild.

Not saying DM’s Guild is all bad all the time. If you want to create content and have it released once and for all into the WotC ecosystem and only in that ecosystem, it might still be a great thing for you. But do so with your eyes open: content created in this program is theirs, not yours, after you put it on that platform.

One might say, and be correct, that this is the price one pays for having all of the Product Identity, from Beholders to Tiamat to the Forgotten Realms and others, at your disposal. And that’s true. If that’s your thing (and fine works spring from it), than that’s great. It’s a reasonable vector for things as long as you realize that once on DM’s Guild, your stuff is not yours anymore. It’s part of a shared IP gestalt that’s available in and through the DM’s Guild infrastructure and that’s all.

For me, it was never an option, because Kickstarter. But if you ever think “Hey, my setting would do well in [Some Other System],” then the  DM’s Guild is not for you. If you want your own brand to be important, then DM’s Guild utility is much lower (you can’t put your logo or brand identity on the outside of the work, only on the inside).

It’s a good set of Q&A, and Rob’s right: his musings aren’t opinions anymore. They’re policy. Read it, ask your own questions, and if you want to go into the DM’s Guild (and there are many fine products available through it), do so with your eyes fully open.

 

Thanks to all for coming by and reading the DFRPG post yesterday. While it wasn’t my most successful post ever (that honor belongs to my post on shields last year), it was very well read, and I hope that encouraged you to poke around the site more.

Two things I wanted to touch on here before I leave this topic for a while.

DFRPG and New Customers

In brief – the fact that the GURPS Basic Set was in the top earners for 2017, to me, indicates that one of the primary purposes for the game (the #1 purpose of course being to get a self-contained game out into folks’ hands to play) was actually accomplished. New people got into GURPS well enough that the Basic Set was on the list of top earners for the first time in a while that I can remember.

I suspect that many of those folks are branching out from the DFRPG, but of course I have no data there.

Internal not External

I’ll reiterate that I believe that there was no dissembling when internal delays and development costs were the issue, and that indeed, as a few commenters noted on my blog, the SJG Forums, and various social media groups . . . since all the numbers I crunched could not only have been crunched beforehand, they didn’t even really need the Kickstarter to crunch ’em, wasn’t the “failure” fore-ordained.

Not only is the answer “basically, yes,” but Steve himself said it:

It’s worth excerpting because it’s key. The visibility to this would have been high. They’d have crunched ’em before, during, and as they were about to go to print. Nothing about the status was hidden to them as things progressed. As cost and time overruns happened, “what success needs to look like” would have been updated too. Continue reading “DFRPG: New Customers vs Cost Overruns”

The Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying game (DFRPG) was a nifty experiment, which aimed to deliver something that games based on GURPS sorely needed: an entry point to the game that was ready-to-run as-is.

Not telling anyone anything they don’t know, but games Powered by GURPS are subtractive. Much like the cliche about making a sculpture being removing everything but the subject matter, playing in a campaign is a matter of deciding what flavor of game you want to play, and then subtracting out all of the core and supplements that aren’t the game you want to play.

I’m going to refer to the whittled down versions of the rules as Powered by GURPS, so that I can distinguish between the entire GURPS line, the Dungeon Fantasy sub-line, and the altered and updated Dungeon Fantasy RPG rules that take the approach I mentioned. Take the core of GURPS, throw out what you don’t want, tweak the rest, and then play. So when I say that you’re playing Powered by GURPS (PbG) you’re using 3d6 roll low, four attributes, roll high for effect, all d6s of nearly any flavor. That’s the engine, while the DFRPG or any particular campaign is the game. Perhaps this will be a distinction without a difference, but for my own sake and for clarity, I will make it for this post.

The DFRPG went through Kickstarter, and the campaign went well, raising over $175,000 from over 1,500 backers. It suffered some delays in production. It was promised in May 2017, went to the printers at the end of April 2017, and started shipping to US backers in September (I actually got my copy in August, as a top-tier backer that went to GenCon to play with the ever-delightful Sean Punch). So the entire thing was about 4-5 months behind schedule, and the planned development time was 8 months, and a total of about a year was realized.

A lot was riding on this experiment, as “we’ll see how the DFRPG sales go” was the answer to the oft-repeated question to inquiries of “what about [this other genre]?!”

The game that was produced is gorgeous, exceeding the usual production values for GURPS books and PDFs in its use of interior color printing, and shipped with five books, the largest of which was 128 pages. It also came with dice and a few full-color printed maps for the included adventure. While it was available bare-bones in the Kickstarter for $50, the retail game hit the stores at MSRP of $60.

So . . . how did it go? It went well and not well. The game sold through its initial (reduced) print run, but was declared a failure in the 2017 Report to the Stakeholders, which SJG publishes each year to let the gaming customers know what’s going on.

There were bright spots and dark spots in the report for the DFRPG and the reports that followed, and I just want to muse on them a bit.

It must be noted: I am speculating ruthlessly in the following post, and I have no special knowledge that I’ve included in the post that would lead me to believe my numbers are accurate. I’m guessing. But a game that relatively quickly sells out its first print run apparently will not be reprinted, despite being #6 on the revenue charts . . . that means a cost/revenue imbalance on the cost side of things, and in the game industry, that’s not that hard a place to arrive at.

Continue reading “Dungeon Fantasy RPG: Aftermath of Report to the Stakeholders”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. That makes GURPSDay 5 years old this month! Today I’m back from Thailand and while jet-lagged a bit, I’m still mostly functional. I have, on the other hand, been forgetting what the heck day it is all day long. It did not helpeth me that my work computer was still set 13 hours ahead, so I was confusing the heck out of folks – and myself – talking about “tomorrow a Saturday dinner,” since tomorrow is in fact Friday. Shudder.

For that reason, I did include two weeks in today’s script pull, just to ensure we time-travel back to my first day in Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima).

We’re currently drawing content from 96 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs. Picked up another one today: Michael Thompson’s Traveller Adventures. Welcome!

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.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Feb 1, 2018 – Feb 15, 2018”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. That makes GURPSDay 5 years old this month! Today is the second GURPSDay in a row done with me in Thailand and my wife manning the CMD prompt to run the script, so yay for awesome redheads who are very regrettably 13,330 km away.

We’re currently drawing content from 95 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer 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.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Feb 2, 2018 – Feb 8, 2018”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. That makes GURPSDay 5 years old this month!

We’re currently drawing content from 95 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We’ve got some interesting things coming in 2018. GURPSDay is often reshared and followed by some of the nice folks at Steve Jackson Games, and I made a suggestion to Kromm and Steven that has drawn some interest.  We’ve even come to an agreement on what form that will take. I will post about it in more detail later today.

One way or another, look to see the return of the monthly Blog Challenge. And another monthly activity whose destination is Pyramid Magazine! More on that in late February.

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.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Jan 26, 2017 – Feb 1, 2018”

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. Last week, Emily added some error checking to the code, and so I’m confident that all but one of the blogs will pull properly. So yay, progress.

We’re currently drawing content from 95 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We’ve got some interesting things coming in 2018. GURPSDay is often reshared and followed by some of the nice folks at Steve Jackson Games, and I made a suggestion to Kromm and Steven that has drawn some interest.  We’ve even come to an agreement on what form that will take. I will post about it in more detail later today.

One way or another, look to see the return of the monthly Blog Challenge. And another monthly activity whose destination is Pyramid Magazine!

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.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Jan 19, 2017 – Jan 25, 2018”

In the Pyramid Article “The Last Gasp,” I introduced Action Points to GURPS. They are a short-term fatigue store that must be managed in order to fight and move. They were designed as a solution to the “just spam the attack button” behavior that is endemic to the GURPS combat model – at least in my experience. There’s just no downside to it, and much upside. GURPS rewards you for going first, hitting first, and of course not being it. Best way to not be hit? Kill the other guy first (or incapacitate).

Really, for most combats, that’s both fine and realistic. As Emilio Estevez once said: “Two hits. Me hitting you, and you hitting the floor.”

But sometimes, combats are a bit more epic. Or more than a bit. And fighting is tiring. There are sagas and stories of troops so exhausted they are unable to fight. GURPS usually handles this after the fact, through Fatigue Point loss . . . but FP recover at 1 per 10 min, which means that much like the DnD short and long rest, you’re “all better” after a rather brief pause. Even the Long Term Fatigue points introduced after The Last Gasp but written LONG before it (due to odd schedules in GURPS since Ogregeddon) don’t quite get you there.

Regardless, Action Points originated with the car-thought: what if you had to spend an action point every time your rolled the dice? From there, it got modified (you can quickly see where that breaks down) into the form that appeared in Pyr 3/44. The key point is that you spend these short-term points to attack and defend, or even move a lot.

Also in the car, because I always do my best thinking where it’s potentially fatal for me to write things down, I thought about Rapid Strike and multiple parries and defenses. In GURPS, they’re heavily penalized. Rapid Strike is -6 per extra attack. Dual-Weapon Attack is -4, but you only get one. Extra Attack is 25 points and applies to all weapons rather than just your favorite one (if you want to strike twice, buy extra skill if you only use one set of weapons, Extra Attack is if you want to use multiple sets with poor defaults, like a grappling skill and a weapon skill). On the defensive end, each additional parry is -4; extra blocks are -5.

Aside: Having now trained in HEMA as well as Korean martial arts . . . I seriously question the defensive penalties. A properly executed parry requires very little movement with the weapon, as it’s always supposed to be held in a way that covers the vital line. Shield use is no less subtle and quick, and the vast swath of attack angles blocked by a medium shield makes for very effective denials. That is represented by the Defense Bonus, but still . . .

In any case, the thought occurred to me. If using action points, perhaps the exhaustion factor of burning them in order to defend is penalty enough? Or at least enough to make it so that the gigantic -6 to each additional attack (in ranged combat, not entirely analogous, -6 means that what you used to be able to hit at 100 yds you can now only hit at 10yds; Skill-12 at 75% chance to succeed/25% fail goes to 10% succcess/90% fail) and substantial defensive penalties are too much pain?

If you attack twice and have to step and defend twice, you’re looking at 4-7 action points in one second. Given most fighters will have 10-12, and heroic ones might be in the 14-20 range, you’re still looking at a burst capacity of only a few seconds before you have to recover a bit. Recover will only take a second or two . . . but that’s the whole point of the system. To have those couple of second pauses show up as emergent behavior.

Anyway, to the point. No solutions here, because I think it would need playtesting. But I have to wonder if the AP costs of defending make lower penalties make more sense. Defend all you want (or at least more easily), but you’re going to get tired quickly. The foe can still saturate your defenses (well, multiple foes, anyway), but you get tired. The free defenses you get with All-Out Defense will also become more attractive.

On the attack, I think you still need some sort of penalty, and it should scale upwards a LOT as you throw more attacks. I mean, two attacks – quick ones – in a short span isn’t crazy, especially using both hands. But as you use the same thing more and more, you start to get below the limit of reaction times, and that requires cinematic/superhuman abilities fast. But fact is, if you attack four times in a second, you’ve just spent a lot of your AP reserve.

In fact, that would be another way to go, which is forget the penalties to skill (though rushing an attack will cause some), if AP costs per attack went up, that sort of bursty movement would exhaust you so quickly that it would also self-regulate.

The other question that came up in casual discussion there would be the impact of things like Extra Attack and Altered Time Rate impact AP use and recovery. Mostly recovery.

I think Altered Time Rate works well enough as is. Just use more recovery actions as part of your ATR. Attack, then Recover (or vice versa), and use the law of averages to outlast your foe. Burn huge amounts of AP in a one-maneuver burst . . . then recover them. So that probably works well enough.

Extra Attack, though, is tricky. Well, perhaps not. I’ve always rather not liked the “must use two hands” thing, and found Multistrike to be inelegant. Extra Attack should just be an extra attack, period, as it should be better than +6 to skill (24 points). But . . . if Extra Attack also boosted your Recovery Roll by +4 (giving you on the average one extra AP per recovery action) that might be about right. You’re still likely to be burning AP faster than you recover them, though, so Extra Attack is less valuable than it was (sure, you can attack once more per level of Extra Attack, but unless you can recover that faster, it just means you tire faster). A more simple solution might be that each level of Extra Attack gives you +2 AP back on any successful recovery roll. Something like that.

Of course, if you did away with some of the penalties for attacking and defending quickly, then the best way to spend those 25 points might actually be some limited form of AP recovery, and recovering at HT/10 per second is also 25 points.

So Extra Attack is tricky, and to minimize the already substantial bookkeeping load of The Last Gasp (honestly, it would be a fantastic, always use it kind of thing except for the bookkeeping, especially on the GM’s side) it really ought to be something like a bonus to AP recovered.

Or hell, just say that much like All-Out Defense gives you 2AP you can only spend on defenses, Extra Attack gives you 1 or 2 AP that can only be spent on attacks. Probably 1. That’s simple and sidesteps too much additional bookkeeping: “the first N attacks, where N is your level of Extra Attack, are free.” Now THAT makes Extra Attack worthwhile in a way that just getting higher skill isn’t, which is cool.

One day I hope to play in a game that uses The Last Gasp, but lacking a computer to track AP (and I know that at least one Bot has been written to do so), the accounting load has proved too daunting except for Mailainka’s Cherry Blossom Rain campaing . . . where it worked precisely as intended, so he says.

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. Last week, Emily added some error checking to the code, and so I’m confident that all but one of the blogs will pull properly. So yay, progress.

We’re currently drawing content from 95 blogs. We’re still picking up some feed issues with them, but once they’re solved, we’re that much closer to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We’ve got some interesting things coming in 2018. GURPSDay is often reshared and followed by some of the nice folks at Steve Jackson Games, and I made a suggestion to Kromm and Steven that has drawn some interest.  We’ve even come to an agreement on what form that will take. I will post about it in more detail later today.

One way or another, look to see the return of the monthly Blog Challenge. And another monthly activity whose destination is Pyramid Magazine!

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.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Jan 12, 2017 – Jan 18, 2018”