Dragon Heresy: Progress Report To-dos and To-done’s

A week makes a big difference, and a lot happened in the past 7 days. So here’s the progress report for the week ending May 7!

The biggest stuff that was on my formal to-do list:

  • Look at the skald spells and ensure they’re in the spells list.
  • Check the new spells from the added Clerical Domains and make sure they’re in there somewhere.
  • Rewrite and examine the equipment list to add a bit of Norse flavor, as well as some issues I’ve had with the armor list
  • Re-analyze the fighting styles for fighter to make sure all is consistent and no style is more or less powerful than others out of the box
  • Cut down the combat rules for the Berserker level’s reward
  • Write rules for flyting, a ritual exchange of poetic insults
  • Trim and edit the “AppendX” (misspelled purposefully, pronounced Append-X) for the new rules inclusions

The short version: all of it got done this past week.

The Long Version

The skald and clerical spells were mostly just tedious. Look at each one, and double check whether it was completely missing (some were!), or whether it needed to go in the spell descriptions but not the clerical spell list. Call Lightning, for example, is not a usual clerical spell: you only get it if you’re in an appropriate domain.

The equipment list was more fun. I had a layout already for Chapters 1-4 (see below: Editing and Layout), and I didn’t want to muck it up. Mostly, I tweaked the weapon’s list. I got a thrusting Long Knife in there which replaced the sickle as a simple piercing weapon (light, finesse, not throwable). The shortsword got renamed as the long seax, and is now a 1d6 slashing weapon. I also added a one-handed broadsword. A martial, 1d8 slashing weapon that is not versatile. Why take a non-versatile weapon when the longsword is still available (mostly made in Arnulf and Brionnu)? Because those one-handed swords were what the vikings used.

The second part of the list was a more sensible armor table. I came up with some behind-the-scenes math that worked with some of the assumptions in the original table, and then – given that spending lots of cash on armor now has game-mechanical value due to the social standing mechanics – made sure that higher DR was costly, that efficient armor (low weight per point of DR) was expensive, and that not having Disadvantage on stealth rolls was expensive. I also renamed or replaced a few armors, namely slapping some lamellar armor on there a few times, reclassifying scale as the heavy armor it can be, and moving the historically-viable ring mail into the medium armor section with some edits.

That was the mission, and it worked out as follows:

If you hate it, you can use your own table from other source material. But this is the one for the book. You’ll notice that some of the armors got very expensive; fine craftsmanship works that way.

The re-analysis of fighting styles was something I dreaded a bit, but it turns out that by and large my prior math held up fine. The following things are more or less equivalent to each other, though the balance assumes a 10th-level fighter giving and receiving blows. So some might be better/worse at low/high levels, but on the average, these things are all equivalent:

  • +2 to your primary combat attribute, giving +1 to hit and +1 to damage
  • +2 to your Threat DC
  • +3 to Hit DC without altering Threat DC
  • +4 to your Critical Threshold
  • +1.5 to 2 base damage
  • Increasing a weapon from d8 to d10, and +1 to critical threshold
  • +3 to hit
  • Reroll 1-2 on 1d8, and +3 to critical threshold

Each of these represents between a 15-22% change in vigor per attack vs an unarmored foe, or reduction of vigor on the defense, or a 25-30% change vs. DR 4 (lower base damage means increases are worth more). So expect to see some of these show up in fighting styles. Where they don’t (Archery, for example) it’s because of other effects. Analysis like this will also help when, inevitably, Feats get introduced to the game.

One of the major things I did was in initial cut-down of the manuscript for the Basic Combat Rules, which is the promised reward for the $5 Berserker level. It’s currently 77 pages long, which is much too long. My target is 32 pages, so simplification will be done. On the other hand, it’s going to be laid out, not just a word file. So that was good.

I also chopped up the extra rules content, and managed to save about 10% wordcount between shields and other things as I tightened up the language. That will go into the back of the book. Alternate rules and expanded shield options wound up being about 3,000 words total: perhaps five pages laid out, maybe six. What’s in them?

  • Facing and Flanking
  • Shield Size and Type (from bucklers to pavises)
  • Rules for weapon heft, in case daggers easily defending against greataxes bugs you
  • A few lethality switches for GMs that hate, er, wish to challenge their players more
  • Some notes on DEX and STR in combat, making DEX the “hit stuff at all” ability, and STR the “hit stuff hard” ability. Includes notes on adding STR ratings to bows
  • A nifty new concept that Eric Diaz and I worked out on replacing the DEX bonus categories for armor with an encumbrance slot method. If you’re strong enough and you carry little enough gear . . . you can get +5 DEX bonus while wearing plate armor. Since armor provides DR not increases to Threat DC, this doesn’t break bounded accuracy

Editing and Layout

The rest of the time was spent on graphical design, editing, and layout.

Chapters 1-4 are essentially edited and finished. Vince has given me chapters 5 and 6 (those chapter numbers should really be called “manuscript sections” since the numbers don’t correspond exactly to anything). He’s working on Ch 7 (magic and spells) right now, and then he’ll hit Ch 8 (most of the setting info) later this week. The largest single section of the book is the Foes section, which stands at 55,000 words as-is with no edits, and due to layout concerns, will actually get larger rather than smaller. I need to do some “Identify Fiend or Foe!” writing there.

But it looks like some time next week, which will be right about when the Kickstarter funds settle and cards are finally charged, we will be close to having an edited, laid-out document that can be distributed to the Thegn and higher level.

Oh, and Michael worked up for me a simple character sheet. It’s not form-fillable (yet), but it’ll appear in the back of the book, and has the right new concepts on it.

What’s after that?

Quite a bit, actually.

Once the document is laid out, I will have art holes to fill. I’ve already put my art team on notice that I’ll have some work for them, but no work is yet being done. I need to get my spreadsheet out of what I need: how many pieces, what size, etc.

From a layout perspective, once I’ve got my Ch 1-8 section done, and Michael finishes up Ch 9 (he’s got tricks for Foes that save huge amounts of time), he’ll give it a once-over for mistakes and tight layout, and make sure things are consistent. Call it editing check for layout.

Then the tedious process of hyperlinking/bookmarking begins, along with finding and marking references.

I suspect artwork will be the long pole in the tent. Four to six weeks there. That still puts “the PDF is done and ready to go to print” at the end of June.

Where are the pre-Orders?

I’ve had a few questions on this. The short version is that I have a potential line on a decent way of dealing with international shipping, I have your informal surveys, and that should allow me to properly calculate international shipping.

Until I hear back from the international fulfillment team, I can’t put in shipping rates, and I can’t go live with the Backerkit surveys, because I have incomplete information. I suspect that should change this week.

Final Touches

The printing cycle is usually 12 weeks long for offset. It can be longer, but I hope not. If it is 12 weeks, then I will receive the order in Minnesota by the end of September, and you should get your books in the USA by the end of October. Not ahead of schedule, but not late, either.

International may well be funny. Six of the twelve weeks are ocean and ground shipping from the likely printing location to MN. The roughly 50 books worth of “rest of world” orders (about four boxes worth) may wind up shipping early, since they’ll go out to a different destination. So the timing should be about right even so. I’ll keep you updated.

Skjald-hirð

Finally, the shields. I’ve got two in a near-final state, and will be getting the materials for the rest in the coming weeks. They’re not due until October, but once I’m not at my computer at all hours on manuscript stuff, four to six additional shields will take about a week or two, so getting them out earlier than the deadline will be easy.

Dragon Heresy Website

Last thing: work is going on in the background on a dedicated website for the Dragon Heresy game and related products. That will be a thematic improvement for the overall product line. No timetable on this one, but my developer guy, Merlin (yes, really) and I worked out all sorts of SSL and certificate stuff over the weekend.

Parting Shot

So there was a lot that got done this last weekend, and things are proceeding apace.

It’s important that I finish things up soonest. Not just for you guys! I have the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game conversion of Lost Hall of Tyr to Hall of Judgment to do, plus a minimum of two micro- or mini-settings for Dragon Heresy to write myself. Also another mini-setting for Dragon Heresy that a third party is interested in writing for me. Plus a science fiction game!

So there’s a bunch of new product development going on here at Gaming Ballistic . . . but first thing’s first: finish Dragon Heresy and get you guys a playable game.

To arms!

2 thoughts on “Dragon Heresy: Progress Report To-dos and To-done’s

  1. Nitpicking: On the armor table, should “rinforced leather” be reinforced?

    Content looks good, and I’m excited for my final copy!

    1. Yeah – I actually caught and fixed that yesterday, but didn’t update my screen capture. Thanks for staying alert, though. That’s the sort of thing that will be important as we approach the “go to press” date.

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