I brought an artist on board to do some 3D renders for the upcoming Kickstarter. More on that below.
If all goes well, I will finish up the video tonight or tomorrow, which puts me in a position to launch on Monday, which would be “all goes to plan.”
Daniel also was a whiz this last week and we installed and activated WooCommerce, so when I have products to offer, I can take PayPal and credit cards. I’m also capable of accepting Stripe, but I’m pausing on that one for now.
So, I’m about to try and launch a product, I can collect revenue, and I think the site looks good.
I obtained 10 ISBNs and 6 bar-codes, so I can list and sell my first few products in various formats in many places.
Dungeon Grappling and Dragon Heresy
One quick note on this. If you’ve been following me for a bit, you’ll know that most of my efforts for a long time were bent on trying to bring my full RPG Dragon Heresy to reality. This is still happening. But along the way, I got a good piece of advice, mixed in with some pretty negative advice. Which was that Dragon Heresy, being two full-size, hardcover books with full-color art that will probably take $25K just to block and tackle, another $25K for the 350-400 pieces of art I’d need, and then yet another $20K to print physical books . . . well, having my first Kickstarter for my first product being on the order of $80,000 is a bridge too far.
I looked at Dragon Heresy, and decided that if I were to get some experience, build some credibility as to being able to produce and deliver a product of quality, I’d need to start smaller.
My choices seemed to be two-fold. I could try and blow out my version of Alexander Macris’ domain rules that I’d modified for SRD5.1 and Dragon Heresy, or I could take the grappling system that started in Manor #8, was revised and expanded and playtested over the course of months, and bring that to market with both OSR (I use Swords and Wizardry as an example), the PFRPG, and Fifth edition all as examples within the text.
I love Alex’s work, but despite it being OGL and therefore technically allowable for me to build it, well, it seemed that would be the sort of thing Alex and Autarch would want to do himself, or at least in collaboration. The grappling system is my own from start to finish, and has proved itself to be a winner in several systems (including GURPS).
The system that will appear in print is simpler than the GURPS one, of course, but it still manages to be dramatic, fast, and fills a gap in how characters and monsters fight that has existed pretty much forever. Most creatures that are trying to kill you because they are hungry are grapplers, not strikers, and yet my experience with the games is that the worst an animal does is Claw/Claw/Bite – and that really should be claw-and-knock-prone, claw-to-grapple, bite-to-strangle.
Well, now you’ll be able to do it.
The ask is a LOT less – over 15x lower than for Dragon Heresy. I’ve already learned a ton about making video (start early), putting together the Kickstarter pitch with the extremely limited graphical and editing tools that the Kickstarter backend gives you, and that my biggest worry right now is that my marketing channels are underdeveloped.
That’s all stuff you want to find out on a $5,000 “this is my upper-end stretch goal” project, not a “I need $80K to get it done” project.
And that is why, after roughly nine months of nothing but “Dragon Heresy” and “Heretical DnD,” you’re suddenly hearing a lot about grappling. That book went from “a collection of all my rules and blog posts” to 17,500 words of relatively polished prose very quickly. About five weeks from my first note to a well-known Kickstarter expert to launching the new product. And that is because all the ideas were there, and just needed to be put through the purifier to get to the basics.
All that said: I hope you guys like it, and I hope you’ll support it. I’ve got some great add-ons for you too, especially if you’re an OSR fan.
With that, work on Dragon Heresy did not stop. The part of the book that is still unfinished is the fluff text for monsters, and that is still moving forward, albeit at a slower rate.
That’s really the only update – my efforts have obviously been focused elsewhere.
Well, this is the big one.
I procured via Emily Smirle a good 3D render of a scene in a dungeon in order to help pitch the project. It’s got grappling with animals (a giant snake going at it with a barbarian), grappling with monsters, and grappling with magic. Anything else would have been too busy.
The front-and-center piece is a lady in proper armor using an arm lock technique on a minotaur – my wife tested this one on me while I was standing on a chair. So yes, a 5’4″ redhead can, in fact, put an arm lock on a critter that stands 7′ tall (my height on the chair). And then bash him with a sword.
In any case, I like how the final image turned out, and while finding text that was both readable and distinct was a challenge due to color palette, I think it works OK. Next time, though, I’ll start with the text I want to use, and then work the colors around it. Grey, rather than brown, stone would have made the red text/gold shadow stand out very well, and given more options there.
Again: that’s why this Kickstarter is so important. Learning.
In other news, I got the first full-layout pass from Nathan, and it’s gorgeous. A lot of the issues we’d been working through were resolved in this pass, and though we need to reach out to someone whose image (or one he might create for us) we want to use as a ‘behind each chapter title’ graphic, everything else is looking highly satisfactory. We’ll tweak the color palette of a few things, but by and large, this book could be “published” tomorrow as it is, and no one would be unhappy with the work.
Well, other than the lack of art, which we’ll fix through the Kickstarter progress. The initial layout pass came in almost 30% under budget for black-and-white art, so I asked Nathan to make some of the smaller pieces larger. If it goes as I asked (and it won’t, because you can’t just automagically increase the size of art without wrecking the layout), each image will be of a nice, large size, and my art team of Gennifer Bone, Juan Ochoa, Rick Troula, and Christian Villacis will get my art direction just about as soon as we pass the basic funding goal of $1,500. If we hit the second stretch goal, we’ll do color (doubling the art budget) and add four more pieces – one each to each artist – of good size to make the book even cooler.
The last stretch goal is a full-size custom cover. The mockup I did is OK, and I can use some public domain art or the 3D render or even the dungeon tiles we’ll hopefully use for chapter lead-in graphics to make that work. But if we hit the final goal, I’ll commission a new one.
The lat bit hurdle is the video. I made some progress in creating a very tense teaser portion that needs a bit more work, and alas, also needs new music. Because you can’t just slap on Anvil of Crom into a Kickstarter video – it’s a commercial venture, so I don’t think that is covered under Fair Use. I could choose Mars, Bringer of War, or even O Fortuna . . . right? Holst and Orff are way out of copyright!
Nope. The piece is public domain, but the particular performance is likely copyrighted. I can go to Audiosparx and buy a commercial licence for certain classical pieces such as Mars (Holst) for $125-150 or so. I also was gifted a piece of fairly appropriate music for free by someone that plays in Christopher Rice’s game. I may well use that.
I do wish I could use Anvil of Crom, though. It’s freakin’ perfect.
But . . . one more teaser cut of video and images highlighting grappling, then some green-screen re-shoots of my verbal pitch to potential backers.
I gotta tell you – the green screen work is fun. I already made a very bad test image with my daughter as superhero, and found out that you can remove some really nasty artifacts by tilting the camera (as to the right) and then using the video manipulation program to rotate it until I’m vertical. The chroma key works almost too easily, and the results are good. Well, visually good. There’s still me to deal with, which gives me an appreciation of actors who can stand and deliver a performance with the camera in their face. It would help me to memorize my lines, and I’ve been doing that for the last 24 hours . . . but this is my daughter’s birthday weekend, so my priorities were on her, Kickstarter or no.
Still, I have plans, and the method, motive, and opportunity to bring the video in on time and ready to launch on Monday.
I do hope for your support. The product is (I think) good. The extras are boss. And the artists could surely use your support – nearly all of the Kickstarter funds for the project are going to them, or to other professionals brought on to the team for layout, graphics, or other “put the book together” or “block and tackle” expenses.
In any case, I’ll close with my teaser:
Live to Grapple. Grapple to Live. Dungeon Grappling.