The Experiment

SJG is running an experiment. 12 PDFs. 10 pages each. $3 minimum buy-in. You get as many PDFs as are unlocked of the 12 for that $3…and right now we’ve already unlocked 11 of them. Only one more left, and things look very good for that.

The Steve Jackson Games 2020 GURPS PDF Challenge

With perhaps a week to go, the experiment has thus far proven successful. 11 of the 12 unlocked. Closing in on 1,700 backers. A week yet to go, including the critical “last 48 hours” where folks following the campaign tend to jump in and re-assess what they want to do.

So what DO you want to do?

The Pledges

The four pledge levels include the base $3 tier, and a $30 tier that effectively gets you the 11 or 12 PDFs for free, plus $30 credit in Backerkit to spend on any PDF that is published by SJGames (there may be limits to that, but they intend to make as much of their self-owned PDF collection as possible available).

For $49, you get what is increasingly looking like all 12 new PDFs PLUS a copy of the Characters and Campaigns books: The Basic Set. If you JUST wanted to start off, this is your huckleberry…to borrow a phrase.

But consider that with the $99 pledge tier, you can get all 12 titles (included in pledge), the Basic Set (about $55 for both PDFs), and an additional $70 in credit to spend on PDFs in the Backerkit phase. (You get $125 credit, plus all 11 or 12 PDFs, for your $99 pledge. Even if I say so as a booster and author for the system, this is a hell of a deal if you’re new to the system.)

Where to Start

You can do a LOT of happy damage with that.

Want to go dungeon crawling? Pick up Dungeon Fantasy 1 and 2 ($8 each) and still have $54 to drop on more than 20 other books in the Dungeon Fantasy line. Any rumors that GURPS isn’t a supported system die on the vine on this page. Pay particular attention, if you want a quick start, to Pyramid #3/72 and #3/113, both of which offer tools to make the on-ramp from “let’s think about playing” to “dice hit the table” shorter and faster…and both penned by Kromm himself.

But wait . . . fantasy not your thing?

Then you need to take your $70 and check out the Action line. $44 gets you the entire five-volume set (I review the first four here, and I maintain Action 2 is one of the least appreciated, most useful book in the GURPS body of work for ANY genre). Three of the PDFs you’ll get (all unlocked at this time) fit right in to an Action game. Want to play Fast and the Furious? James Bond? The Expendables? Jason Bourne? Six Underground? This is your entry point.

STILL don’t feel it? Fine.

Perhaps you want secret magic, in a world where monsters are real? Monster Hunters takes it over the top, for those whose tastes run to Buffy, Angel, or Monster Hunters International. Or Dresden Files, for that matter. The Monster Hunters sub-line can be completed for $54. You get an outstanding primer and guide on Ritual Path Magic, the embedded magic system, as part of your PDF haul. All of the Action books and many of the Dungeon Fantasy books can be mined for monsters, mayhem, and enemies…plus Ken Hite’s truly outstanding Horror book. I review that on my blog as well (much more briefly than action). Monster Hunters explores some very powerful characters (400 points!) . . . but you can play Sidekicks (MH4) at a lower point value for more challenge.

All of these . . . plus the even more streamlined Dungeon Fantasy RPG (which is different than the Dungeon Fantasy sub-line) . . . have the advantage of providing Templates. Pre-worked building blocks for easing the part of GURPS with some activation energy to it: character generation. With the structure provided by these (which totally aren’t class-and-level, really) you get a faster time-to-start, some niche protection for those that want it, and the hand of many fine authors in helping build effective characters while still preserving the open, near-limitless growth options inherent to GURPS.

But Wait, there’s More!

There’s tons and tons more. Not including the huge variety of historical sourcebooks and technical works from third and fourth edition. Or the “-Tech” series which can serve as a gear catalog. Or 120 issues of Pyramid Magazine, guaranteed to find something you can use there, from adventures, to rules tweaks and modifications. Character templates.

Most of GURPS is “3d6, roll and shout.” One you have a character, play is as quick or as detailed as you and your group wants it to be. I ran GURPS in my home setting of Nordlond for 13 people at FnordCon, and it felt light and fast, despite half the group never having played GURPS before. I ran it for six people at GameHole Con, and it was still immersive.

Check this out. It’s worth your time.

I’ve spent pretty much all day working on the Backerkit setup. A few things are clear to me.

I could probably push to get this done this week, set up the items, etc. That would get the surveys going. But I think it would be best if I waited until later next week.

  • Ksenia will be doing a lot of cover art early next week, and I think most of the backerkit surveys will look a LOT better with 4 or 5 covers either finished or in serious WIP
  • Mistakes at this point are really annoying to undo, and sometimes cost money (for me), or irritate backers (for you). I’d as soon avoid that
  • I’m also getting more art coming in on the two books I’ve got under commission…and I’d love to show that in updates as the surveys roll.

And of course, this is the July 4 holiday weekend coming up, and while I will be working on MPJ (editing and layout), my family is heading off into the north of MN for a much-needed (though still isolated) vacation. So my internet connection will be spotty. I’d much rather be able to deal with any issues or questions.

So: Backerkit surveys go out towards the end of next week. I think it’ll be better that way for everyone.

I’m just going to re-post the key section of the GURPS News from Sean. The key bit is he’s released all 12 titles for the upcoming PDF challenge. No telling what order they’ll be coming in. Maybe the order below. Maybe not. Sean did say that the first one is Tricked-Out Rides (which I’ve seen, and made a suggestion to which was accepted). DF 21 Megadungeons I’ve also seen – I helped edit it – and it is a whole lot of hard-won guidance on how to make these work in one package. I also happen to know that there’s likely no one better to write the Mercenaries book (Action 7) than Shawn Fisher.

Gaming Ballistic stuff isn’t part of this; that’s OK. The key here is to rack up as many backers as possible. Note Phil has confirmed again and again: this is all digital, and zero physical goods are going to be made available through the Kickstarter campaign. That doesn’t mean never, but it does mean not now. It also means fulfillment is “poof, it’s there” once the campaign and then the Backerkit are over. So “two slayers, no waiting” is the rule of the day here.

I’m already on the “notify me” list. There’s also a Q&A running tomorrow at 3pm on the FnordCon Discord server, as announced in today’s Daily Illuminator.

Join in!

GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge

The single biggest piece of upcoming news deserves its own section: We’ll be running a GURPS Kickstarter from July 1 (tomorrow!) until July 13 that could unlock up to 12 PDFs for as little as $3 for the lot. You read that right: 25 cents apiece if there’s enough funding. Don’t believe me? Let Phil Reed explain and explain more.

But what are these mythical PDFs, and why should you want them? I’ve secured special permission to let the cat out of the bag a day early!GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge

  • GURPS Action 6: Tricked-Out Rides (by Sean Punch) . . . A system for quickly customizing cars, SUVs, vans, and pickups.
  • GURPS Action 7: Mercenaries (by S.A. Fisher) . . . A look at freelance military action, from the 1970s to present.
  • GURPS Boardroom and Curia: Tomorrow Rides (by Steven Marsh) . . . An organization that encourages you to drive dangerously.
  • GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 3: Deep Night and the Star (by Matt Riggsby) . . . A cosmic fantasy adventure.
  • GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons (by Peter V. Dell’Orto) . . . Tips and advice for designing dungeons-as-campaigns.
  • GURPS Horror: Beyond the Pale (by Christopher R. Rice and J. Edward Tremlett) . . . A truly creepy modern-day adventure.
  • GURPS Hot Spots: The Incense Trail (by Matt Riggsby) . . . A visit to historical trade routes linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean.
  • GURPS Monster Hunters Encounters 1 (Christopher R. Rice) . . . Mini-adventures for modern-day monster slayers.
  • GURPS Reign of Steel: Read the Sky (by Roger Burton West) . . . An SAS adventure set after the robot apocalypse.
  • GURPS Steampunk Setting: The Broken Clockwork World (by Phil Masters) . . . A setting that smashes together the modern and the steampunk.
  • GURPS Template Toolkit 3: Starship Crew (by Sean Punch) . . . A complementary set of templates for those who operate big spaceships.
  • How to Be a GURPS GM: Ritual Path Magic (by Christopher R. Rice) . . . A guide to using GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic.

Need another reason to back this? Your faithful servant here celebrates his 25th year at SJ Games on Sunday, July 5. If you’ve ever found my hand on the GURPS tiller to be a good thing and would like to support the game going forward, why not mark my silver anniversary by putting a little silver toward this campaign? The more that’s pledged, the more PDFs you’ll get!

Other Upcoming Plans

Of course, there are still many other goodies in our various queues. Here are some hints regarding those. All are best guesses and nothing more – I cannot promise anything resembling dates.

  • The GURPS Combat Cards are now at the printer. Look for them this summer.
  • The Girl Genius Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game remains in the production queue. If you’ve read this far, then you can probably figure out why it hasn’t moved more quickly.
  • Remember that first draft from David Pulver I mentioned last time? It jumped through editing and now awaits production. The title is still a secret.
  • My two short GURPS Dungeon Fantasy volumes and that supplement I wrote for the GURPS Magic series all await production as well . . . and have nothing to do with the GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge.
  • The final draft of Christopher Rice’s GURPS Realm Management is still in the editorial queue.
  • We posted a call for playtesters for Bill Stoddard’s GURPS Furries. The playtest will run from July 10 to August 17, so it isn’t too late to get involved.
  • Randy Huegele’s contribution to the GURPS Hot Spots series awaits playtesting behind GURPS Furries – probably in late summer.
  • I’ve started reviewing that first draft from James Amaral & Joshua Lopez (for GURPS Infinite Worlds), while first drafts from Alden Loveshade (no clues yet!) and Christopher Rice (for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens) continue to await editorial review.

Yet another project has moved past the first-draft stage but been put on hold, while five others are in the process of being written (we signed two new contracts since May). To stay abreast of developments and perhaps learn more about the items I left vague, follow the GURPS thread in my blog, updated Fridays.

Join Us! Join Us!

A Whole ‘Nother Store: Amazon

For folks that prefer getting their games from Amazon, or just to widen the opportunities for expanding their market, or just ’cause . . . SJG now has a custom presence on Amazon. This supplements the existing Warehouse 23 sales channel, and is hopefully more discoverable by folks.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG, GURPS, and The Fantasy Trip all have dedicated, prominent drop-down menus. This is happiness.

Even happier: I confirmed with Phil just a moment ago that the Gaming Ballistic titles that pertain to particular games will appear on the store! The first two (Nordvorn and Hall of Judgment, 2nd Edition) are already up!


GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge

The other bit of huge news is the announcement of the July 1 launch of the GURPS 2020 PDF challenge. Phil Reed has released more details about the dozen or so short PDFs in various places. Here’s the text:

June 23, 2020: Coming Next Month: Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge

Sean and the GURPS team have spent months preparing a dozen different GURPS PDFs . . . and next month we’re taking them to Kickstarter as Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge. The challenge: How many stretch goals can you unlock before the campaign comes to a close?

For a $3 pledge, you’ll get one GURPS PDF. As stretch goals are unlocked, we add titles to that $3 pledge. If all goes well and all of the stretch goals are unlocked, then your $3 pledge will land you a dozen 10-page GURPS PDFs.

The project is for PDFs only – no print rewards – and there are only three reward levels:

      • $3 – You get all unlocked PDFs.
      • $30 – You get all unlocked PDFs and $30 in credit to spend in BackerKit on existing GURPS PDFs.
      • $99 – You get all unlocked PDFs and $125 in credit to spend in BackerKit on existing GURPS PDFs.

Please click the green “notify me” button on this page to receive email notification when the project goes live in July!

Can we unlock all twelve PDFs before the clock runs out?

 Phil Reed

So for three bucks, you get a minimum of a single 10-page PDF if it funds. Considering that in today’s market, an 8-page PDF in color like Fantastic Dungeon Grappling usually costs $5 by itself, this is a big discount over even retail pricing. Stretch goals are key, here. No word yet on what levels they’ll be, but since they’re all the same length, one expects something similar to “every $N, another PDF is unlocked.” I know what N would be for me at this level, but my costs can be higher (because I usually go with bespoke art and SJG has elected to throw down some really nice stock art from people like Dean Spencer – I recognize his stuff – and that is amazing value for the quality you get; Rick Hershey is the same way) in some respects, and lower (because it’s just me) in others. So we’ll see.

But the more folks buy in, the better the deal gets. All stretch goals achieved means you wind up paying less than $0.50 per PDF. That’s a lot of content.

The PDF-only option is also pretty much genius for this. It means zero shipping hassles. It means no marginal costs beyond fees. And the “Backerkit Credit” idea is a fantastic way to allow free selection from add-ons. I’m going to be looking hard at this. I’ve got two upcoming Nordlond-ish books (one on hirelings and NPCs by Kevin, and a Nordlond Magic Items book by Christopher) that might benefit, though only mildly, from this model.

Phil is also providing bits of insight as to the process on the SJG Forums, as one would expect. Check the link for comments and questions. Follow the Kickstarter page (!!) to be notified when the project launches.

We’re in the home stretch. Dinner’s over, settling into the end.

I hope that ALL THE FOLLOWERS come on board. I know it’s unlikely. But still . . . lots of folks could come in and push us to 600 backers.

In any case . . . I’m not going to inundate y’all. Thanks for joining me this far, and I hope we have a very strong finish. It’s already been a very good day.

More Perilous Journeys: Finishing Strong on Kickstarter


“We’re in the Endgame now.”

Aw, snap! The Kickstarter is almost over! In the next half-day or so, we’ll see how many of the still-over-400 followers who haven’t yet backed the project jump on board.

We passed the critical 500-backer mark, so from here on out, every 10 backers increases the author pay past the base rate of 5 cents per word. I like this part of the campaign, honestly, because it really starts to reward the authors for their hard work. For several of them, the goal is very explicitly “hit 600 backers,” as that enables them to qualify the work for the Science Fiction Writers’ Association, which starts at 6 cents a word.

In any case . . . here we go! I’ll just be here hitting F5 a lot.

user avatar

Just a quick note regarding international physical copies for More Perilous Journeys.

My print process goes through Mixam, which prints in both the USA (blah, blah) and more importantly for Not-the-USA backers, the UK. I usually print the international books in the UK, nip them over to Kixto (usually takes two days), and then put them in Royal Mail at book rates.

I can’t promise anything, but it appears that the five new books will mass about 900g all told including the mailer. Maybe a bit more, maybe less. That’s about £6 shipping to the UK, maybe £10 to the EU, and maybe £13 to non-EU and beyond. USA folks get media mail from my house. That’ll be about $6.

If it’s more than I think, and the prices change, I’ll let you know. But this strategy has worked for me recently for the Nordlond Sagas campaign, and was highly satisfactory for both price and speed.

A while back I was grousing about using Drop Caps. I “solved” the problems I was having by using a GREP search to insert and then adjust the kerning of the spaces after my room numbers.

After a quick chat with Nikki Vrtis, layout artist for Steve Jackson Games, she took me the last, final step of this process that didn’t think of at the time. It’s the Smart Hulk solution: stop thinking of the space as part of the problem; think of it as part of the solution.

What I did at her prompting:
  • First, I’d tried a bunch of nested character stuff, so I had to undo that. I created a new character style called Drop Caps New Style and then find/replace all of my “Kerning Space Initial” and “Kerning Space Final” styles with that.
  • Instead of using wildcards, I used GREP, mostly so that I could do a global find/replace of (\d\d\d) with $0[space].
  • Then I modified my Drop Cap paragraph style to four characters to include the space, and it works perfectly; I did have to do a find/replace [space][space] with [space], but that’s on me. I do that anyway to remove editing orphans.

What this does is create, instead of a three-character room key, a four-character one…but that last character is a space, and considered part of the drop cap. That gives me the spacing I need, automatically, and if I need to adjust it for looks (I don’t), I can do so by tweaking the properties of that space. Want a bigger lead? replace that space with (say) an EM SPACE. Again, GREP comes to the rescue here.

On May 19, Gaming Ballistic launched the More Perilous Journeys Kickstarter campaign. The campaign funds publication of five new adventures for The Fantasy Trip. See your players battle dragons, fight to stop an evil overlord, and discover wonders and horrors as a shadowy patron leads you in pursuit of powerful magical artifacts. These exciting adventures are already written: The funds pay for editing, layout, art, maps, and a high-quality print run.

Further, as the number of backers increases past 500, the authors per-word rate goes up. This is obviously super-important to them, and if the count goes past 600, the per-word rate is enough to qualify for the Science Fiction Writers’ Association. It also helps me pre-load future campaigns and material, and get that much closer to making Gaming Ballistic my Day Job.

More Perilous Journeys

More Perilous Journeys reached its funding goal on June 7 . . . and the campaign ends on June 13, at 10pm Central Time. There are three GM’d adventures designed to be played with a referee and a group of your friends. Two are programmed adventures (solos) that can be played with a small group with GM support . . . or played by yourself on the off chance you’re asked to spend months alone with little social contact.

Roc of Sages (Christopher R. Rice and J. Edward Tremlett). Beset by Collectors – assassins from the Indhyna League – the party must journey to the Isle of Greater Zosi to collect items for the semi-corporeal Jok Sevantes. Of course, there are several dangerous stops along the way. Roc of Sages is designed for 4-6 characters of 34-36 points.

Catacombs of Living Death (Christopher R. Rice and J. Edward Tremlett). Following the events of Roc of Sages, Jok Sevantes again calls the party to aid him. They must venture forth through a plague-stricken land, and enter the Catacombs of Eulogia to recover the Helm of Baat. Simple enough . . . but things are not always as they appear. Catacombs of Living Death is designed for 4-6 characters of 36-38 points.

The Sunken Library (Christopher R. Rice and J. Edward Tremlett). Set immediately following Catacombs, the players flee the plague-ridden landscape beset by many foes. Sevantes’ plans reach their climax as his partners must bring all of the previously found artifacts beneath the depths of a lake in Meloria. There, a lost tome sits in the sunken Great Library of Meloria, and matters become treacherously clear. The Sunken Library is designed for 4-6 characters of 36-38 points.

Dragon Hunt

Dragon Hunt! (David Pulver). Baron Gwalathar’s armies marched off to war. Left without defenders, the dragons of the wild sensed weakness, ravaging the realm. The young Baroness Tanith Gwalathar calls for heroes: It’s time for a dragon hunt! This is a solo/programmed adventure for one 37-39 point character or two 35-36 point characters. It can optionally also be run with a GM.

Dark Lord’s Doom (David Pulver). Another Dark Lord is on the march, threatening to bring death and destruction to all who oppose, and maybe a few who don’t. This solo/programmed adventure features a squad of soldiers fighting in an all-out war to defeat the evil Lord Saethor and his allies before it’s too late. Will the Dark Lord’s doom fall upon the party, or on the villain himself? Dark Lord’s Doom is designed for 4 characters of 33-36 points each.

Help push this campaign to a new Gaming Ballistic record! More Perilous Journeys, in its last 48 hours on Kickstarter.