Dragon Heresy: The Last 48 Hours

As always, the last 48 hours of a Kickstarter are crucial. One can frequently match the first two days’ funding totals in the last two days, and for Dragon Heresy, if we did that, we’d be seriously flirting with the big stretch goal at $16,000 for an offset run with sewn binding.

We are currently sitting at roughly $11,000, with the initial funding goal having been $3,500.

But let’s back up a bit.

What is Dragon Heresy?

Dragon Heresy is a stand-alone Fantasy RPG based on a grittier take on the Fifth Edition game engine. It uses a two-level target hit roll, and differentiated between skill and endurance (“vigor”), injury (“wounds”), and retains Fifth Edition’s excellent use of Conditions, including Exhaustion. You do NOT need other Fifth Edition books to play the game; character generation, combat, social standing, flyting, grappling, wilderness and survival, and monsters are all in the book.

The setting is strongly Norse-inspired, which influences the cultures that are playable, but also the mechanics, since the vikings’ use of lightweight, buckler-gripped shields as very nearly the primary weapon heavily influenced the combat rules options.

Finally, it integrates one of the best grappling mechanics written for such games, making grappling interchangeable with striking on a blow-by-blow basis. One new player played a dragonborn berserker whose primary weapon was a net with no slowdown in play, full use of the rules, and outstandingly fun outcomes.

Tell Me More

No problem. I’ve done a lot of that – here are some additional resources for those who wish to check out the project

Podcasts and Video

Reviews

There have been two reviews of the pre-release copy of the game (it’s fully written).

  • Follow Me and Die! took a look and liked what he saw
  • Moe Tousignant is in the middle of a truly comprehensive review, and allowed me to host his first two sections on my blog
  • James Spahn (White Star and other games) took a look at a pre-release copy and liked what he saw.

The Kickstarter: What You Get

There are only a few pledge levels

  • At $5 you get a stripped down version of the combat rules in sort-of edited PDF format, with minimal layout and no art. It’s for taking the combat rules for a test drive
  • At $20 you get a full-color, hyperlinked, layered PDF
  • At $50 you get a Black and White POD hardback and the PDF
  • At the $100 sponsorship level, the hardback is upgraded to color
  • At $500, you get everything from the $100 level and I will hand-make for  you an authentic viking shield if you live within the USA. It will be fit to you up to 35.5” diameter, with hide-glued planks, Painted striðskjold battle shield with linen stitching and custom paint job1oz hide edging, linen stitching, and a hand-carved oak handle. This is basically “buy the shield and get the game for free.”

What Can You Do?

Obviously, the best thing for me is for you to head over and pledge. It’s a great game, with a great layout, and even if I do say so myself, the initial book block (the interior pages without the binding) from the most likely vendor unless we hit the big offset print goal are simply superb.

If you are interested in the game but can’t pledge, I’d ask that you share it on social media so that others that might be interested might see. Like Fifth Edition rules but want more grit? You’ll like what you see here. Like Norse mythology and vikings? You’re a prime candidate to love the game.

48 hours to go. Please check it out, and pledge if you can!

 

Play a berserker or viking warrior in Dragon Heresy, a fast-paced game that brings viking spirit and grit to Fifth Edition with new rules, a complete setting, and tons of challenges.Dragon Heresy on Twitch

This is a bit of an experiment. I’ve never streamed on Twitch, but I’m giving it a shot and streaming Dragon Heresy tonight!

The folks at Roles to Astonish, a newish channel, have agreed to come on and play Dragon Heresy with me as the GM.

Roles to Astonish: Developer Spotlight – Dragon Heresy

We’ll be walking through a first level starter adventure that I’m writing to support the Dragon Heresy release. Yes, if it’s done by the time I move the Dragon Heresy PDF to final form and to print (July) backers will get it for free in PDF.

Right now, it’s more a skeleton (ahem) than anything else, but I’ve done free-form play with Dragon Heresy before, and it works out just fine.

Come check out the game! It starts at 5pm Central Time, and will go for up to four hours.

A Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter backer was asking about something I mentioned in one of the podcasts I was on this last weekend, which also appeared in one of the playtests from way back: The Runic Berserker, also known as the Berserker Path of Galdureiði: The Path of Wrathful Power.

The Path of Galdureiði is not in the Introductory Set. Yet. If we hit the $10K stretch goal, it will be one of the options for “More Content” that backers will get to vote on. It’s only about 550 words, and the stretch goal adds 10,000, so it’s definitely not the only thing that can happen.

BERSERKER: PATH OF GALDUREIÐI

You feel the pulse of the earth, the surge of the flames, the bite of winter’s fury, and the vast power of the storms. Those forces are not quiet, and the world is angry. You mirror that passion, channeling the world’s energy as your own through affinity with the true runes of power.

When you choose this path at 3rd level, you learn to channel your own rage and the energy of the world around you through a set of magically attuned runestones or runic tattoos that you keep on your person. The runes focus your energy and allow you to channel that harnessed power despite the red haze of rage through which you see the world. You cannot use the powers without these arcane symbols, so Berserkers of this path will work the stones into their clothing or weapons to prevent losing them through misfortunate accident or the willful malice of an enterprising thief. You may also permanently brand or mark the runes on your body with the aid of a 10th or higher level arcanist who has knowledge of the rune; a 10th level Berserker can help inscribe all of them.

THE RUNES OF POWER

The runes are magical sigils as well as letters, and each has one or more associations—with a god or goddess, a concept, a thing, or an action. The meaning is always layered and fluid.

The runes used for the Path of Galdureiði are not all the runes that exist, but upon choosing the path at 3rd level, the Berserker gains familiarity with some of the common meanings and methods of channeling the runes to invoke certain effects and powers. As her understanding and attunement increase, she obtains the ability to “reverse” the runes and achieve more difficult or subtle effects.

THE PRIMAL RUNES

Powerful but basic, these runes are the first that Berserkers use to focus their rage.

  • Hagall. The power of storms to destroy. Associated with both lightning and thunder damage.
  • Isa. Ice and the power of winter. Associated with cold damage.
  • Kaunaz. Fire and torchlight. Associated with fire damage.
  • Raido. The change in circumstances that breaks a deadlock; travel and movement. Associated with control damage (grappling).
  • Sowulo. The radiance of the sun and the boon of salvation through the gods. Associated with radiant damage.
  • Sverdaz. The sword of kings; another warrior’s rune. Associated with slashing damage.
  • Telewaz. The thrust spear that justly slays; the warrior’s rune and sigil of Ziu. Associated with piercing damage.
  • Thurisaz. Magical force and the power of the giants; Donnar’s hammer. Associated with force damage.
  • Uruz. Strength and the power to smash. Associated with bludgeoning damage.

Rune Strike

When you choose the Path of Galdureiði at 3rd level, when you rage, each turn you may, as a bonus action, invoke the power of a rune at a foe whom you have struck with a melee weapon. When you do so, the foe takes 2d4 damage (or control, if you invoke Raido), with the damage type being based on one of the primal runes. Once you have chosen the rune, it infuses your rage and persists until your rage ends. When your rage does cease, you must make a DC 12 Constitution save, or suffer an additional level of exhaustion (as described in Conditions). If you rage again, you may choose a different rune. Armor and frantic defense both apply normally to the rune strike damage.

 

This post is for errata reports for Lost Hall of Tyr. I’ll post an ever-expanding table of what the suggested change is, the potential correction, and other notes.

Page From This To This Notes
1 target and 2d20 target-and-2d20 hypenation should match “target-and-3d6” format
1 target-and- 3d6 target-and-3d6 remove extra space between hyphen and 3d6
1 Open Game Licence v 1.0a Open Game Licence v 1.0a All bold for the formal title of OGL and SRD
1 Swords and Wizardy Complete Rules, Swords and Wizardry Complete Rules remove comma at end to keep format like all others
1 5.1 5.1 5.1 is part of the SRD title, bold it
1 Dungeon Grappling (small caps) Dungeon Grappling this is maybe the only place where titles aren’t in small caps; bold regular text only
1 Matthew J. Finch Matthew J. Finch. Period after Finch in both cases it appears
2 Ferth (FERTH) FERÐ (ferð) We use the funky th thing Ð for other places, let’s do it here, too
3 Unbookmarked Use TOC as basis for bookmarks; add bookmarks in PDF for all tables and box-text PDF has great hyperlinks and TOC, but no bookmarks
3 The Ridge Path, Dread River, Goblin Valley, The Domstollinn The Ridge Path, Dread River, Goblin Valley, The Domstollinn Bold section titles, as they’re higher level than chapter heads but lower than topic heads
5 Find/Replace 5e in bold regular with . . . 5e in small caps Keep all book and edition titles consistently formatted in Bold/Italic/Small Caps
5 The product introduces the “control” damage type. Each monster in the scenario is detailed in its Bestiary, complete with stats for grappling attacks (and the equivalent of a hit point maximum for grappling) that will be instantly familiar to even novice players of the game in any edition.
Grapple by making a normal hit roll (adding your bonus if you are proficient in Athletics, the 5e grappling skill), and if you exceed the Grapple DC— think of it as ‘Armor Class for grappling’—you roll damage, based on the hit die for your class and your Strength modifier. The more control damage you accrue, the more restrained the foe.
Grapple by making a normal hit roll (adding your bonus if you are proficient in Athletics, the 5e grappling skill), and if you exceed the Grapple DC— think of it as ‘Armor Class for grappling’—you roll damage, based on the hit die for your class and your Strength modifier. Dungeon Grappling introduces the “control” damage type. The more control damage you accrue, the more restrained the foe.
Each monster in Lost Hall of Tyr is detailed in its Bestiary, complete with stats for grappling attacks (and the equivalent of a hit point maximum for grappling) that will be instantly familiar to even novice players of the game in any edition.
I suspect that the phrasing in the book currently was edited beyond recognition; it really makes no sense as it reads. The rephrase is all the same sentences in a different order. Flows better, I think.
5 conttrol control typo
6 Incapacitated means incapacitated Incapacitated means incapacitated italics for emphasis
6 web web all spell names should be in italics unless they’re in titles
6 space – endash – space emdash This is fixed in all other chapters but the preface, which I rewrote. This is my GURPS training showing, as SJG doesn’t really use emdashes.
6 Dragon Heresy and Dragon Heresy RPG format in bold/italics/Small Caps book titles
7 Lost Hall of Tyr format in bold/italics/Small Caps book titles
7 modified ability score modified ability score. missing period
7 space – endash – space emdash This is fixed in all other chapters but the preface, which I rewrote. This is my GURPS training showing, as SJG doesn’t really use emdashes.
8 see Alternate Settings see Alternate Settings italics to emphasize that it’s a box title/topic header
9 freeman freemen
9 , and axes, they left , and axes, the hobgoblins left clarity
9 Without warning, ice exploded Without warning, winter exploded ice gets repeated in the next sentence, so tweaked
10 Elunad, a High Lady of Elunad, High Lady of too many “a” in this paragraph
11 Moving the tower and hall . . . Let’s make this a 4th bullet? It could stay the same; if we change it, I’d move the “Moving the tower” sentence between what are currently the 2nd and 3rd bullets, since the 2nd one is terrain, the dungeon is sorta terrain, and then we talk about gods
11 There is also a great deal of both rumor and fact . . . The Hall . .. , A mystical . . ., and There were several pathways are all bullet points, and should get the shield treatment This may break layout, and so we can forget it if needed
14 monsters and other things with hyperlinks bold them? I’ve seen this in OSR modules, where you might see: the hall is guarded by four kobolds, who are sleepy” or something like that. It might be useful to indicate, as we do with hyperlinks, that there’s more information in the back of the book. We can use underlines as well.
15 See Wilderness Survival for See Wilderness Survival for italicize the reference
15 the following table the Alternate Travel Plans table the table is no longer following in the layout!
16 Sploosh Sploosh italicize the reference
16 1d8-1×10 (1d8-1)x10 parens around 1d8-1
16 x10 ×10 use multiplication symbol for this, not “x”; occurs a few times on this page
17 jump, feather fall, levitiation, etc spell names should be in italics if they’re not in titles
19 Rewards. REWARDS. Rewards is actually a run-in caps title
19 awakened tree awakened tree (or another emphasis) as with line 29, some call-out of monsters that appear in the bestiary seems right to me here
19 greater invisibility greater invisibility spells in italics
21 hob and hobgoblin hob and hobgoblin monsters indicated by emphasis
21 inflicting control damage an athletics test control damage is “legacy code” and doesn’t apply anymore
21 a t wizard suffers a wizard suffers extraneous bold t
21 100′ per round (a mile every five minutes) 100′ per combat round (a mile every five minutes). differentiate between combat rounds and nebulous rounds in next section
21 dire wolves dire wolves monsters indicated by emphasis
24 x10 ×10 a careful execution of find/replace will catch this one too
25 see Alternatives, below see Alternatives, below italicize the reference
25 node stage I changed the lingo to be less esoteric in a rewrite
25 Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 bold them? secondary run-in title?
26 runes are mentioned show the actual runes in graphics, so players/GM can visualize? This might be a layout challenge, but if we could fit the blue runestones with the actual runes in them here, I think it would be cool.

Did you Play Lost Hall at the Grappling Smackdown at GenCon?

I know a few folks – maybe one or two – who played what was called then “The Tower of Justice” or “Grappling Smackdown” with me in the IGDN booth at GenCon this year.

Friday and Saturday mornings, 10am start time. Each day was 7-8 people, some who’d signed up, some who didn’t.

As the book that will be now titled Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn is closing in on its basic funding goal, I want to give you folks playtest credit. And a free copy.

So: email me! You have my card from the event. You can also hit me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com, or leave a comment to this post. Let me know which game you attended, what character you played, the name you wish to be credited with, and the most memorable thing that happened to you during the game.

This is a bit of a cry for help. I know a few folks – maybe one or two – who played what was called then “The Tower of Justice” or “Grappling Smackdown” with me in the IGDN booth at GenCon this year. Friday and Saturday mornings, 10am start time.

Each day was 7-8 people, some who’d signed up, some who didn’t.

As the book that will be now titled Domstollinn: Lost Hall of Tyr approaches both Kickstarter and finalization, I want to give you folks playtest credit. And a free copy.

So: email me! You have my card from the event. You can also hit me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com, or leave a comment to this post. Let me know which game you attended, what character you played, the name you wish to be credited with, and the most memorable thing that happened to you during the game.

 

So, GenCon has come and gone, and I got a lot of business done while I was there. Some of this will be reflected in what projects GB is working on.

The Tower of Justice – Adventure Scenario

The brief scenario that I over-prepared for (two hour session, but I wanted to ensure we didn’t run out of fun) went over very, very well. I can confirm that 15 folks, from newbies to grognards, went through it, and despite grappling appearing constantly, everyone was engaged and had fun. The give and take of control damage was as compelling to them as it was to me.

The scenario is built around the Dragon Heresy world, and the strong undercurrent of Norse-ish mythology that flows through it was well received.

The “do we or don’t we go this way” puzzle that was supposed to be one of the scenario forks (which one needs for a con game, though much less so for a campaign) was so compelling (and frankly, not hard enough) that both parties just got it. I came up with a good re-arrangement of things that will resonate better with sandbox play, as well as providing larger exposure to more potential resolution pathways.

So . . . I’ll be publishing this, for real. The GenCon folks that were at my table will get free copies and playtest credit, if they email me. Otherwise, I will work it up for 5e and Swords and Wizardry, at least, plus of course Dragon Heresy.

There’s a ton of work done already, and turning it into a short adventure supplement should be fairly quick. I suspect that I can re-use a lot of art I’ve purchased for Dungeon Grappling. I may even re-use the Dungeon Grappling layout template, which will push my InDesign skills to grow and improve.

In short, I don’t think I’ll need to crowdfund this one. We’ll see. I could also Kickstart it when it’s basically ready and see if folks have enough interest to help me fund custom art. That way, I’d be able to work with some old and some new artists – many of whom I met at GenCon – on a very short project with little risk. Test out working relationships and whatnot, and keep in practice for crowdfunding. Besides . . . I love generating new art (well, paying others to do so).

What about Pathfinder? I will need to consult my oracles; I’m not as good with this ruleset than others.

The adventure itself stands at 11,500 words – roughly 23 pages as-is, which would grow a bit with maps and fleshing out all parts of something designed for “until it’s done” rather than “cram into two hours.”

Dragon Heresy: Starter Set?

I watched “Ashcan” versions of various games in development fly off the shelves in the Indie Game Designer’s Network booth for four days. The 5e Basic Rules were pretty popular.

So, I’ve got a project that will be in editing for a while, but is fully playable. The system plays well and has some neat tweaks to it. The setting is compelling enough, and has loads of room to support adventures.

So I’m pondering and chopping a very, very limited version of the game that only covers Level 1-4, ditches all optional rules, and is otherwise a nice intro. I’m shooting for something like 60,000 words, which is about 15% of the total three-volume set.

I’ll see how far I can distill it. There are advantages to doing this that solve some issues I had with my Kickstarter planning, too.

The full game is still progressing! And again, with the artists I chatted with, I’m very hopeful I could go from “funded” to “done” in a reasonable time period through the glory of parallel processing. But . . . I think I can get something fun out there that’s playable, and will only improve with time as Ken does his magic on my writing.

Venture Beyond

Just for completeness’ sake, David and I are closing in on a first-complete-manuscript. We’ve nailed down a lot better where we’ll be conventional in business development process, and where we’ll take risks for the sake of time to market.

I’m feeling good about where we are, at least for now. Not much of an update, but as with a lot of “below the waterline” stuff, there’s a lot to unpack in the words “making progress.”

I was at GenCon’s 50th Anniversary this past week, and I had the honor of observing the first of Gaming Ballistic’s Dungeon Grappling demo games, and playing in the second. Here are my thoughts, for those that are considering its use:

Summary

It’s not as scary as you probably think.

Qualification

I have 20+ years experience with D&D in general, maybe five or so with Pathfinder, and a month or two with 5e. I have always felt like grappling, in general, has gotten less attention than it deserved in pretty much any system, including all editions of D&D, and have had characters/moments in-game where I’ve found myself grappling (with the rules and/or the enemy) and found them a bit awkward. At the point of the convention, I had not read the Dungeon Grappling book (and still haven’t as of this writing—but I will), though I am quite familiar with its spiritual-ancestor, GURPS Martial Arts – Technical Grappling, so I did have a basic understanding of how it works beforehand.

Observations

In my brief exposure to the Dungeon Grappling system, I found it to actually be very easy to understand and smoothly integrated. It uses the normal attack-damage mechanics. “Control” is just damage of a different sort, the accumulation of which inflicts one of a handful of “grappled” conditions. Those conditions are well-defined and sensible, using established mechanics. A character can “attack” to add more to his own control, reduce his enemy’s control, aid allies’ grapples—it’s very intuitive. It works the same against larger or smaller opponents. The book has all the right cheat-sheets in easy-to-find places. I know the book does delve into more detailed grappling situations—and I generally like the more crunchy stuff—but really, the little bit that I observed is all you need to make grappling in D&D a bit more interesting, and it’s simple enough that I couldn’t give anyone a good reason to not use it.

And, I’m told Dungeon Grappling addresses that burning question I’ve always had in D&D and never found and answer for: how far can you throw a halfling? 😛

Note from Gaming Ballistic: Pretty darn far if you’re an Ancient Red Dragon

My 2¢.

Saturday was packed for me. I was busy from 9am until 10:30pm with good important stuff. Sunday, the last day of the con, was basically open for me – a free day – until the show closed, at which point I was to help tear down the booth.

The Big Day

Well, I awoke realizing that I’d left my battle-mat in the booth. No big, assuming it was there. I beat feet over before, it turned out, that the convention hall opened, which was 9am. So I went over to my gaming room, set up early, then chatted with some of the IGDN members there. I described my grappling system to Sarah at the booth, and another member sat down, and “oohed” and “aahhed” over my book, which was on the table. She opened it up and started avidly reading. I just grabbed a pen, signed it, and made a gift of it to her. If she’s that enthusiastic, she can have one! Continue reading “GenCon: The Big, The Free, and The Teardown”

Reposted from the GURPS Forums Thread: Call for Playtesters – GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

Steve Jackson Games is seeking playtesters for GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions, by Hans-Christian Vortisch. This is a supplement to the rules in GURPS Tactical Shooting – and by extension, to the GURPS Basic Set – concerning gunfights in extreme environments such as in winter, in the desert, underground, around water, and even in space!

We are primarily looking for playtesters who have experience with real guns and/or the hazards found in these extreme environments. Preference will be given to applicants who know how to shoot (current and former military servicemen, police officers, sports shooters, enthusiasts) and/or who have experience with survival and operations in extreme environments (scuba divers, spelunkers, folks with experience in the Arctic or desert or jungle, etc.). A number of slots will be reserved for people who expressly do not have such backgrounds, to check rules and descriptions for clarity and ease of use.

You should be familiar with the rules in the GURPS Basic Set, GURPS High-Tech, and GURPS Tactical Shooting. We expect the playtest to be very active for three or four weeks, and then to remain open to hammer out details for as long as the author requires after the initial feedback period.

Prospective playtesters should email the Lead Playtester, Douglas Cole, at dhamptonc@gmail.com with [TSEC] (for “Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions”) in the subject line. Include your Warehouse 23 username (if you have one), your preferred email address for the closed playtest mailing list, the correct spelling of your name as it may appear in print, and a few words on why we should pick you: qualifications, experience, current gaming group(s), etc.

*** *** ***

Yeah, that’s me as Lead Playtester. I did it for High-Tech and the original Tactical Shooting, too. If you’re going to apply, please be thorough and explicit in your email to me giving your credentials, even if we know each other well! Both the playtest and the book should be tons of fun.