Gaming Ballistic LLC (Update Oct 23)

This is the second post for the weekly updates for Gaming Ballistic LLC.


Thus far, I’ve signed four professionals to work on my upcoming products. The one addition is going over to Nathan D. Paoletta for work on Dungeon Grappling layout.

I still need to make contributor and other contracts for perhaps five more people to date – these are folks that are now doing work for me either under oddball contracts or for (paid) contributor credit, as their playtest contributions in terms of “here’s actual text” instead of “here’s a suggestion of text for you to write” have risen to the level of “yeah, this deserves money.”

I also find myself needing a boilerplate retail contract. “Yes, I will sell your product on the Gaming Ballistic store, and pay you X per sale.” This should be really simple, I suspect, but then, legal contracts rarely are.

I have successfully migrated all the old content – posts and comments – to this self-hosted site. This is good. Now I can own and maintain it on my own hook forever. One of the side effects there was that it took out all the pretty style things Daniel was doing for me; he’ll update the Cascading Style Sheets tomorrow, at which the site will not only be functional, it’ll be pretty. Well, at least according to me. We’ll be tweaking out the basic look through October, and hopefully go fully live from a blog perspective in November. From a nostalgia perspective, I should really go live with the new site on December 28, 2016, which is the date of my first post on the old site.

Dungeon Grappling

A live playtest of the initial draft revealed that what I called during the design phase “the hit point problem” was not just problematic, it was a fatal error in play. This was a relatively easy fix, and making it real-time allowed the playtest to continue and be pretty successful. Turns out that the system, which was born in the OSR and migrated to Dragon Heresy, was based on more solid ground that I suspected. Returning the PFRPG and Fifth Edition to a playable basis required getting closer to Dragon Heresy and the OSR style of writeups and adversaries.

The short version here is that basing grappling off of Hit Points gets hard when your foes have 400 of them. Fix made, fix works.

Moving on, I’ve received a few suggestions of improvements – very slight tweaks – to some of the language in the draft. The PFRPG is very, very technical, and so I need expert help to ensure my suggestions work within the language of the parts of the game under OGL.

Which brings me to issues of non-compatibility, so to speak. While the rules are given examples that are modifications for each particular game, and the overall concept should be playable with most games based on the original 1974 Fantasy RPG, I would say that anything that out-and-out replaces a section of rules is not strictly “compatible,” and I won’t be seeking to slap various logos on the back (or front) of the book.

In the realm of moving from manuscript to product, I’m thrilled to say that Nathan D. Paoletta, designer and layout artist for the World Wide Wrestling RPG, has agreed to take on Dungeon Grappling and make it look pretty. It should be a fast turn.

The process will hopefully move quickly to identify the art spaces, at which point I know which four artists will be getting solicitations from me to contribute.

The initial specs will be for black and white art, with color being a stretch goal for the Kickstarter. Actually, “make the arts full-on awesome” is really the primary purpose of all the stretch goals. Moving from 16 pieces of black and white art to 20+ of full-color is one of the goals. Getting a custom-designed color cover is the other. The rest? Mostly block-and-tackle type stuff.

I had initially thought of putting a lot of reward levels that tied into pre-funding Dragon heresy into my Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter. I was always weird on that for several reasons. One was it might not be allowed. Two is a mixed message – what is the money for? Dungeon Grappling or Dragon Heresy? Third is it’s a lot of non-related work, and that again dilutes the KS.

So I’ll probably nix that. But still – there’s plenty of room for “make the art great,” in the current KS plans, and I can promise that extra cash that is raised, if any, will 100% get plowed back into work on Dragon Heresy.

So I’m pleased with where this is right now.

Dragon Heresy

With heavy work on Dungeon Grappling going on, Dragon Heresy has shifted to a bit of back-burner mode. Still, we got some real good stuff done.

We had Nathan give a (paid) layout consult to Rob – live over Hangouts – so that some of the issues we’ve been having with the preliminary layout can be put to rest. Turns out that it matters which toggles are toggled in InDesign, in sort of an Order of Operations thing. Some of the problems we’ve been having have to do with things like “vertical column justification overrides some other setting,” which makes things look terrible.

So we’ll be trying that from scratch. Hopefully this will allow him to simply import The Book of Deeds into the new template and have an easier time with look and layout. I want a better idea – and soon – of how many pieces of art and how big the book is.

Speaking of art, Gennifer submitted the first “final” piece. It’s a small (maybe 1.5 x 2″) piece that fills a space that looked weird in the book left blank – but it’s a great piece. I will probably include it in a preview later.

I’ve also continued my habit of weekly “this is what we’ve agreed to do, this is what you’re doing, this is what’s done” project manager updates. We’ll see if those become annoying, but they’re good for me to help keep track of all the (many) moving parts. Now, I’m used to sourcing $6M capital equipment at The Day Job, so this is not new to me, but it’s still useful.

The monsters continue to be worked, bit by bit. They’re fun. Each one has to be made unique via the text description, and we’re focusing hard on “things the GM and players will interact with in a fun way” as opposed to “here’s a statline for a bug that is not an adventuring-useful construct.”

I will almost certainly get back to the “heavy DH work” phase in the lulls between layout passes for Dungeon Grappling.


I’ve started building the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter. I’ve got a few reward tiers, and now understand better what is allowed via “add-ons.”

You can’t offer things made by others as a Reward Level. But you can accept larger pledges than the reward and then get stuff to your backers via, for example, the Backerkit survey. This is, of course, more or less what Steve Jackson Games has done with their various add-ons, save for the fact that as an established company, they have a crap-ton of awesome product they’ve created themselves to provide as add-ons.

The ones I’ll be offering are inspired by or contain the rules basis for the grappling book. So they’re very much related to my work.


Progress continues and I feel like the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter is still on track for November. We’ll see!

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