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.

While working on edits and changes and proofing for The Dragons of Rosgarth, a proofer asked me to correct several instances of “gauntlet” to “gantlet.”

I like words, and I like language, but that was the first time I’d run across the word gantlet, which it turns out is the original phrase for “run the gantlet,” while gauntlet is what you use when you “throw down the gauntlet.”

From The Grammarist:

Gantlet vs. gauntlet

Gantlet was the original spelling of the word referring to a form of punishment in which people armed with sticks or other weapons arrange themselves in two lines and beat a person forced to run between them. It came from the earlier English word gantlope, which in turn comes from the Swedish gatlopp.1 Gauntlet is an alternative spelling of gantlet, but it also has several definitions of its own, mostly related to gloves.

Gantlet was the preferred spelling in early use of the phrase run the gauntlet—meaning to suffer punishment by gantlet or to endure an onslaught or ordeal—but gauntlet prevailed by the 18th century. Today, most writers use gauntlet, though gantlet, which is especially common in American English, is not incorrect.

The phrase throw down the gauntlet, meaning to issue or accept a challenge, uses gauntlet in its glove-related sense. It derives from the practice among medieval knights of challenging each other to duels by throwing down their gauntlets. So gantlet does not work as an alternative spelling here.

The two are pronounced essentially identically. My own predispositions would probably make me want to pronounce them as:

  • gantlet: gont-let
  • gauntlet: gawnt-let

In any case, I decided to go with the gantlet spelling, since I also favor the AP usage for colons (short version, if it’s a complete stand-alone sentence after a colon, capitalize; if not, not, unless of course it’s a proper noun). But then, the AP style guide does not insist on the use of the Oxford comma, and I do: In game writing, rules writing, and game rules writing clarity is key. Plus: see what I did there? Oxford comma in my explanation of the Oxford comma AND a capital letter after a colon because it could stand on its own as a full sentence.

I have to finish this book before stuff like the above takes over my brain.

A friend of mine forwarded this to me, taken at Source Comics and Games in the Twin Cities.

A whole rack, all mine! Dragon Heresy prominently displayed, plus both of the new Dungeon Fantasy RPG products!

I think I need to go there and get a selfie of, as a Discordian put it, my “nice rack.”

As always, surveys represent a self-selecting crowd. A survey purporting to look at “the OSR” may get skipped by a GURPS player or someone that only plays Savage Worlds. In any case, the link takes you to an OSR-focused game survey. The results, anyway.

Even so: this is really interesting. Based on number of games in the survey:

Adding up all the flavors of OSR, you have TWO OSR games for every one 5E game. For just under every five 5E games, someone’s playing Pathfinder. And for every three Pathfinder games, two people are playing GURPS.

That doesn’t sound right to me . . . for several reasons. But it’s an interesting and surprising data set.

We’ve frequently discussed sales data and market share, and this survey is a very different take. The last ICv2 numbers I saw put the Tabletop RPG market size at about $55 million, and my general feeling was that it was 80-90% D&D and variations, and everyone else was fighting for the last $5-10M. I’d assumed that it was 50% 5E, 30% PFRPG, 10% OSR combined, and 10% “everyone else.” Those numbers are supported a bit by “who’s playing what on Fantasy Grounds and Roll20.”

Good numbers are hard to find.

When putting together some of the cities and towns in Dragon Heresy, I used an article by S. John Ross called Medieval Demographics Made Easy.

It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: a tightly-presented metasystem and consolidated research finding on the population of medieval towns, villages, and cities. It provides die rolls, tables, and other necessities to quickly understand how many of what profession are going to be in a given place, as well as talking about castles, agriculture, and more.

When S. John restructured his website, The Blue Room, it became convenient for him to offer this file to host on other blogs, and I asked if Gaming Ballistic could be one of them.

I intend to keep using this for Dragon Heresy, and I recommend it strongly, if for nothing else to avoid the trope of medieval villages that feel like 21st century suburbs and strip malls.

Enjoy!

Full File Here:

Medieval Demographics Made Easy (by S. John Ross)

Introduction to Medieval Demographics Made Easy, by S. John Ross
Introduction to Medieval Demographics Made Easy, by S. John Ross

Prelude

 

I’d been looking for a long time to find a source of very thin hide to try and face-and-back a shield. I had been told by my instructor at Asfolk Viking Martial Arts school that the evidence for a hide-faced shield was hit and miss; some were most likely raw wood, some were rimmed with hide and stitched, some may have been faced, etc. As with most things Viking, the relative paucity of physical artifacts means that every new find brings new and exciting information.

Nonetheless, if you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ve seen my learning the craft of making shields bit by bit, and that I also offer them for sale. One thing that always eluded me – mostly due to a lack of a good source for the hide – was the “parchment-thick” hide that my instructor says would have been used. I use goat hide claimed at 1 oz thickness (about 0.5mm thick) for the edges, but those hides are not large enough to cover a full-sized shield.

My existing “red” shield has been in use for quite a while now, and the edging, though one of my earlier trials, has held up well. I also made a pair of “three fox” shields, one as light as I could make it (less than 5 lbs!) of aspen, with a very light stainless steel boss (5 oz) so that the jarl of the Viking Encampment at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival could march with it, and a much more robust one of poplar, edged in deer hide, with a too-thick robust boss. Even so, that one came in at 7 lbs, which was several pounds lighter than her prior shield, which was too heavy for both performance and parade use.

Nonetheless, I wanted to try one of my own.

Continue reading “Crafting: Hide-faced Viking Shield Experiment”

Happy Birthday

So, my wife is pretty cool. When I turned 40, she suggested that my relatives get me a unique gift. That gift was a one-hour lesson in how to fly an actual helicopter, which ended with me piloting a Robinson R22 after a brief introduction to the theory of rotary-wing flight. It was amazing.

Well, last week was my birthday (47 this time) and this time, after a week of cryptic hints that ranged from casual fun to 1970s naughty bacchanalia. One never knows with a redhead. But we started out on Sunday, having been only told “block out the afternoon” and made our way to Mall of America, where much to my surprise, she informed me that she’d rented a Tesla Model 3 for us for a day, and soon thereafter, we left to tool around the western edge of the Twin Cities (mostly around Lake Minnetonka) for the afternoon and evening. I had the car from 3pm Sunday to 3pm Monday, which let me drive it in various conditions. Continue reading “Apropos of Nothing: 24 Hours of Tesla”

Bit by bit, I’ve been working out how to improve my viking shields. My poplar edged shield that I made for myself is 5.75 lbs and about 34-34.5″ in diameter, and is still holding up strong after probably a year. Even so, there are issues with it that later commissions have fixed, but not for this one. It was my first attempt using goat hide for edging, and I hadn’t gotten the trick of keeping the edging flat and flush with the edges. The stitching is far too wide per stitch, and of course I re-used a boss that I had with a terribly wide flange, probably making the thing 1/2 lb heavier than it should be.

For all that, it’s a good shield. Still: I want to try a new one. Why? Read on. Continue reading “Viking Shield Upgrade Experiment”

There are some parts of the production of a book that are just no fun at all.

I’m in a few of those parts.

Hall of Judgment

Oh, sure . . . it’s getting done. Bit by bit. I should have another major revision to Hall of Judgment done either late tonight or tomorrow. Hopefully tonight (assuming my cat gets off my manuscript, but there are fairly sure-fire fixes for that).

But this is the part where you read . . . each . . . word . . . carefully to make sure things are just right, and you still manage to miss stuff.

But what’s going on and changed from last time?

  • Lots of revisions to the Backer Credits
  • Updated the front matter to hopefully include all my contributors
  • Updated all of Glynn’s maps to tweak out a few things, like labels
  • Lots of final editing and small corrections
  • Removed some DnD-isms from things
  • Rewriting some descriptives to ensure they jive with the evolving monster bits
  • Completely re-did the cover . . . and got word from the printer that it looks pretty good

There might be other things too. But I still feel like I’m on track to deliver the finished product to backers next week, on schedule.

Dragon Heresy

We’re in a bit of a dead zone here. The “F&G” (Fold and Gather) milestone “should be” coming up by Friday. If those are OK (and I’m not sure if I get samples or no), I give the “OK to bind” with the first advanced copies of the book arriving to me at the end of the first full week in August. If that’s what I think it is, it’ll be the first time I hold Dragon Heresy as it’s meant to be (well, as the Introductory Set is meant to be!) in my hands. That will be a good day.

Other Things

As with many others, I was saddened to hear that business conditions have led to the shuttering (at least temporarily, but plan for the worst, hope for the best applies) of Pyramid Magazine.

I got my start there, and in a very real way, a succession of Pyramid editors taught me how to write and organize text. I list my 13 Pyramid articles proudly on my resume, and in no small part, I know that my history with Pyramid plus my playtesting org skills got me the nod to be the first third-party publisher for the DFRPG.

It served as a garden where the seeds of future authors were sown and watered, and those of us that had been published there would frequently go out of our way to help others. For 25 years, it was a monthly dose of GURPS and Powered by GURPS.

Alas, and farewell.

I am having *ridiculous* fun writing festivals for the Hall of Judgment setting and adventure.

Why festivals? They’re a great way to introduce a party of adventurers to a new town and culture. There can be competitions, roleplaying, interesting customs, intrigue, rumors, and exposition.

Why so many festivals? So you don’t have to force a timing on an adventure. There were 60 holy days per year in medieval times, and perhaps 1/3 of those were pretty important. So on the average, there’s something going on weekly, and something IMPORTANT going on at least once or twice a month.