I’ve decided that I’m going to post a weekly update on the goings on with Gaming Ballistic (the company). So here’s the first installment!
Making good use of the legal contracts for purchasing services that I sourced early in setting up the company. Thus far, the contract format and pay terms have found favor with folks. I’ve used it perhaps five times thus far (an editor, two contributors, and two artists) and will likely be needing to use it three more times in the near future (one contributor, two artists).
I am going to Gencon in 2017! I intend to try and be there the entire week. I will need to get some advice and secure some booth space, a banner, and ensure I have some games to distribute! I may also need some help manning the booth while I’m off playing in the Dungeon Fantasy RPG game with the SJG folks, including several folks I’ve known for a long time, even gamed with, but never met in person. That should be a fun but exhausting time. I hear hotel reservations are rough that week, too. Advice will be appreciated.
Progress still continues to be made in the “website improvement” front over at the future location of the Gaming Ballistic company site. The graphics are good, we’re playing with fonts, and the color scheme is terrible, but that’s a known and easy fix. The key next bit is to add an eCommerce feature or capability to the site, so that it can support upcoming activities. We’re also going to clean up the menu bar and make it a bit more readable. Still – good progress has been made there.
It is a riff off of Technical Grappling’s Control Point method that I’ve used for about eight months very successfully in the Dragon Heresy playtest games. I have included support for OSR games, the PFRPG, and Fifth Edition.
None of those are trademarked terms, so the entire project should be covered well under existing OGL conditions. I will not claim compatibility with any other games – in fact, I’d feel bad about doing so since “replace the existing system with X” is about as non-compatible as you can get. I do have one feeler out to an OSR company about something having to do with Ascending/Descending AC . . . but honestly my current (v6) draft of the document handles it even without a response there.
The first five drafts were . . . how to put it? Difficult reading. As one of my readers noted, I’d spent something lke 14 pages talking about grappling rules design. The latest version fixes that substantially, and gets right to the point. Are there still things to be said about grappling rules? Perhaps, but honestly I’ve said them all here on the blog and the key bits that make sense were retained.
I’ve got to finish writing the section on monsters that grapple, and then write up what will probably be a dozen sample monsters that appear in nearly every game system, with note on how to make them scary.
Then I’ll proof the file one last time and get it off to preliminary layout, indexing, and then art direction.
So I feel like I’m on schedule, and if I can, as I intend, get a good v7 done by day’s end, I can email my draft to preliminary layout and hopefully have something to look at by the end of the weekend. We’ll see.
Then the kicker will be to see if I can get quickie art contracts set out and a Kickstarter set up to fund it.
Oh! The other big news for the Dungeon Grappling project is I’ve secured permission to include two finished-products or bundles-of-products as add-ons to the Kickstarter. They’ve both got a tie-in to grappling in at least one way, but are independently cool regardless. The individuals/companies involved have been very cool about this, and I can’t wait to offer their products to what is hopefully a wider audience.
So still looking good for a November kickstarter! I think my prelim estimate of about 30 pages will hold, which means I’ll offer the product for about $6 retail, and $4 for Kickstarter. Total funding goal will likely be “minimum funding” at $500 and “do everything I could ever want with it” at $2,500.
Grappling can be freakin’ awesome, both for players and monsters, if it’s handled right. +Peter V. Dell’Orto uses the control point system extensively in his GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign, and as I’ve noted, I’ve used it to great effect in the playtest games of Dragon Heresy. I hope that my small offering finds a warm welcome.
Though much of my time has been spent getting Dungeon Grappling into a production-ready state, work has still continued on the Big Project: Dragon Heresy.
I have contracted with two artists who are actively working sketches based on my art direction. Let me tell you, that is a new skill for me. My first attempts were pretty laughable, but my recent efforts were much better.
As we get closer to having something to look at, I’ll get some of them to post previews.
I also finalized my contract with my editor, and I am thrilled to death about that. Again, the time isn’t quite right, but it’s a name that you’ll recognize, nod your head, and say “yes, that will materially improve the product.” If it makes you also say “Shut up and take my money,” I will with greatest reluctance accept that outcome.
Right now, the biggest unfinished bit that is simply “unwritten” is the Bestiary. Oh, all of the stat-blocks are done. That did require porting them all into the right format and then altering them for the new rules. But that was reasonably quickly accomplished.
No, it’s the worldbuilding/fluff-text that goes in to each one that needs doing. Fortunately, I have good help. I have seen very good writeups, either done by me or my playtesters, of perhaps 2/3 of the 184 required entries. We’re adding a weight estimate to all of the beasts, because Dragon Heresy includes guidance of how much edible meat you can get off of animals (it’s quick and painless to calculate, but “how to provision yourself in a hex crawl” is an important detail, and adventurers need a LOT of food and water).
Anyway, that’s moving forward and I’m multitasking on it well.
Once that’s done, I can ask my playtesters to do a detail front-to-back read of The Book of Deeds, and get my layout partner to throw down a simple draft layout using our existing template. The monster stat blocks will be the hardest to do, I presume, but we’ve got a lot of experience from The Book of Heroes. The prelim layout will let me write art direction for the second volume, and I expect that it will be extensive – 180 monsters, after all. I don’t know that I can promise an illustration for each of them, but I’ll do my best.
I’m hoping to have the entire Book of Deeds in a salable draft form (meaning that it’s as good as we can make it without a formal edit) by the end of October. That will let me focus on the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter while it goes on in November, and then turn my full attention to the big launch for the Dragon Heresy RPG in January.
As part of the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter I will likely be offering some high-contribution-level tiers that will let interested parties pre-fund Dragon Heresy. This will involve a pledge level high enough to secure at least the following:
- A digital or (ideally) offset printing of the book’s content pages
- A commissioned and signed piece of art featuring the backer (or an idealized version of the backer – your choice!) as a Dragon Heresy character or historical figure. This will come with complete character writeup that we work on together, and will be included in the book in a section on Iconic and Historical NPCs.
- The printing of the book will have a duplicate of this image as a front page into one of the books; your copy will be truly unique and your own
- The printing of the books will have a bonded leather cover and feature a full-cover slipcase
- Easy-print and full-color PDFs of both books will be included
This will not be cheap. But anyone that pledges at this level will provide a ridiculous amount of help in moving the Dragon Heresy project from “gee, interesting” to “full awesome.” Some of the above is subject to change and modification when my plan meets reality. But the guys at Thomson-Shore can do wonderful things at fixed cost levels once there’s a giant pile of offset printed pieces, and I hope to take advantage of that.
But, as was pointed out to me, Dragon Heresy is a big project, with a big ask. The more help I can get in spreading the word and pre-funding, the easier it will be to deliver. The game is playable more or less as-is. With the existing word files, you could probably run a campaign and have great fun doing it. I think the system tweaks and the setting provide a well-blended gaming experience that will please grognards and newcomers alike.
More next week!