Kickstarter Update #38 – Light at the end of the tunnel!

Christmas to New Years, I wanted to provide an update on where we are, and some thought I’ve had on the process.

Art

We’re down to the last few pieces for art. Of the 22 commissioned pieces, plus the cover, I’ve received painted/colored final images for all but five. Of those five, one is the cover, which you’ve seen is about 2/3 done. Two are actually painted, but needed tweaks – one was a tiny detail (some magical light coming from where Black Tentacles were emerging from the ground and walls), and the other needed an adjustment to the background in order for the image to make sense as a whole – moving from “warrior” to “gladiator” was narratively more coherent. I expect to have those in hand any moment.

The final two images are also close – one required a lot of discussion between the artist and myself because the art direction and the shape of the art space didn’t mesh well. We resolved that last night, and she’ll be turning that into a sketch and painted final quickly. The final image has an approved sketch as of yesterday too, so I expect that I’ll have it in the next few days.

After I get the finals . . . and pay for them – Gaming Ballistic uses a milestone-based approach so that as each artist finishes a piece, they get paid, and then they upload the high-resolution file . . . I will digitally play with each one a bit, to produce a torn-edge effect as seen in the p.22 preview. Those finished files will go into a repository that Nathan can pull from to insert into the final document. I’ve assigned those at the sponsor level to artwork which matches their contribution; most sponsors have been given more than one piece, because a $100 pledge goes a long way towards sponsoring art. The sponsor levels paid for all but five images, and the cover, of course, was my treat to us all. For what it’s worth, there’s room for four more Art Patrons at the $100 level if a sudden urge to sponsor artwork hits you.

Layout and Editing

With some distance between the last submitted draft and today, I went back, printed out a hard copy, and read it word-for-word. There were mistakes. Not a ton of them, but enough that I was very glad I did it.

What changed in the edit? First, what didn’t change: the content of the document rules-wise. No reviews were endangered by the edits. What got tweaked?

  • The title/credits page got adjusted, and the “S&W Compatibility statement” was added. Some of the new artists got their rightful due.
  • Grammar and clarity were adjusted throughout the document
  • The not-so-good writing that was part of the Pathfinder SRD explanations of the Grappled and Pinned condition (discussed in terms of being Restrained in this document, for consistency) was turned into a bulleted list. It reads better that way.
  • Some examples were fixed. I see what I did, I think, but I like it better another way. Also fixed two internal consistency errors. One was just weird, and the other was an egregious tense mismatch.
  • Some style elements were altered
  • Explicitly mentioned Swords and Wizardy/OSR in the appropriate places.
  • The grappled condition in 5e was weak sauce; I added “can’t make opportunity attacks” to it, which is a step in the right direction.

Overall, I’m still very pleased with the document, and the suggestion of adding reference pages at the back has grown until they’re 2.5 full pages of useful, consolidated stuff. The combat examples that were added – one for each rule set – add materially to how the information is explained and shows how it works in play. The new layout of all the information is clear.

Overall, these changes are good and worthy, and after Nathan gets them into the document, we’ll insert the images and then tweak the hell out of everything to get the final layout.

This may mean going back and commissioning more artwork. Thanks to your generosity and acquisitiveness on the Backerkit surveys, this will probably not injure the project’s financials at all.

Project Financials

On my blog, in my 2016 Review, I tucked in a quick overview of the Dungeon Grappling project as well as Gaming Ballistic’s revenue (all from this project) and expenses (from setup, Dragon Heresy, and Dungeon Grappling) this year.

When Dungeon Grappling completes, I’ll post a financial summary. What I took in and from what sources, and where the money went. As an example:

  • Kickstarter prep: about $400
  • Art: about $2,400
  • Indexing, Layout, eBook prep: About $750
  • Printing and Shipping and Fulfillment Costs: $1,500
  • Kickstarter and Backerkit fees: $600

So the costs were about $5650, while the revenue was about $5,400 ($4,850 from Kickstarter itself, plus another $550 from Backerkit). There were other expenses, but those aren’t directly allocated to the project. Legal fees ($775) for contracting and standing up Gaming Ballistic, and another $50 per month to buy Adobe Creative Cloud, which has already paid dividends in my ability to make mockups of product as well as to start to learn to make edits directly in documents.

So, net/net, I think Dungeon Grappling managed to be turned into what it will become for a net of $150 expense on my part, at least on a project basis. If you detect a bit of satisfaction that I managed to budget reasonably well, you’re not wrong.

Next Steps

The immediate next steps are in your hands. If you haven’t filled out your surveys – and there are about 40 who have not – please do so. I will be locking down survey collection on Friday, January 6, which will charge any extras you’ve plussed-up or rewards to your preferred payment methods. You will all be able to download your extras immediately (they’ve already been uploaded) via Backerkit.

Then, roughly the same time, or perhaps a week after (Jan 6-13), Nathan and I will hopefully finalize the PDF layout of the document, including any extra art I need to buy (some of my artists are very, very fast).

At that point, I will do two things: make the PDF available to y’all for download, and order a print proof via DTRPG. Hopefully I can get that in a week or two.

During that time, I’ll need your help again. During the week I’m waiting for the proof, I’ll need you guys to read the hell out of the PDF file you download, and report to me anything you think is an error at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com, with a lead-in title of [DG ERRATA] in the subject line of your email.

What’s an error? What isn’t?

It’s not “I don’t like this rule.” That’s valid, but it’s not a mistake. As an example, I got a playtest report from someone and his comment from a Pathfinder test was that he was going to alter the thresholds for each condition, because he wanted the low-Strength guys to not be hit so hard.

That’s awesome – he’s altering the rules to fit the game, like GMs have done and will always do. But it’s not a mistake, because another GM will say “if you don’t want your STR 7 wizard to get grappled to death by a dire wolf, stay out of their reach, silly.”

What are a mistake?

Yeah, that was. Grammar foul. Things that I can, and will, change?

  • Grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Clarity issues that generate confusion
  • Consistency errors (you say [blah] on p. 13, but on p. 34 it’s [different blah].

If you see any of those, let me know, and I’ll fix ’em in the PDF. I’ll also fix ’em before I order 120 print copies of the game and mail them out. That way, the book is as good as it can be before it hits hardcopy.

Once that’s done (figure the third week in January, maybe the fourth), I’ll place the orders for all the print copies, and they’ll start their journey to you all. Anywhere from three days to ten weeks (!) later, depending on location, you’ll get your copies, and the Kickstarter will be complete. Worse case lagging shipments should arrive, then, in mid-April. Most orders will be in your hands in February. I’ve resisted the temptation to publish this estimate beforehand, but it seems real enough to make an educated estimate at this point.

Note that pre-orders and retail sales will not ship until a week or so after the Kickstarter backers’ copies go out. It’s only fair. At roughly same time as the pre-orders ship out, I’ll open up for retail on my website, DTRPG, Tabletop Library, and Amazon. Spreading the word at that point would be very much appreciated.

Final warning: I have no visibility or responsibility for any customs duties that are charged for delivery out of the USA. I noted that in the Kickstarter verbiage, but I’ll say it again. Your shipping covers shipping, as I could calculate that fairly precisely using the tools at DTRPG. Customs or other duties are not included.

So . . . that’s it. The end seems in sight, and things are still moving at a good rate to conclusion. Thanks for bearing with me as we conclude this campaign!

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