So, it’s time. Dragon Heresy print approval has been secured.

This morning I received notification that my acceptance of the final proofs has initiated the printing process. Just need to mail ’em a check, which I will do this very day.

This means I’ll be locking down addresses so I can start the process of figuring out fulfillment and how to get the books to folks.

Allowing for the two-day delay adjusts the anticipated schedule to this:

US Backers/Pre-Orders

  • July 10: I give the OK to print
  • July 27: Fold-and-gather samples are ready
  • July 30: I give permission to bind the books
  • August 9: Advance prelim copies are shipped to me from the printer
  • Aug 14: Ready to Ship
  • Aug 20: Estimated Departure from Printer[1]
  • September 24: Arrival in MN
  • Mid-October: Books arrive to backers in USA

Not-the-USA Backers/Pre-Orders

  • Aug 20: Estimated Departure from Printer to fulfillment in Korea
  • Aug 27-Sept 4: Arrival in Korea; pack and ship to international
  • Early to Mid October: Books arrive in Not-the-USA

Final Steps

I need folks to validate that their shipping addresses are correct in Backerkit. I will be locking them down on Saturday. From there, I will parse out final distributions. If you’re looking for a shipped book and I don’t have your address, things will get very expensive to fix, though I will leave a few surplus books in Korea to pick up stragglers.

After we lock down and confirm shipping, it’s really all over but the waiting.

Thanks for coming this far. I can’t wait to hold the book in my hands.

I’m going to host an Ask Me Anything about Hall of Judgment, Gaming Ballistic, and anything else gaming-related you want to chat about.

Thanks to the actions of Erik Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern, I now have a channel on his Discord server. Since he’s got a lot of folks there regularly, I figured his site would be a better place to host it than my channel.

So: if you want to Ask Me Anything, come by and join the Gaming Ballistic channel of the Tenkar’s Tavern Discord. It will somewhat contemporaneous with the Wednesday Tavern Chat (8pm until folks get worn out), but that’s fine too!

There will be a voice channel available as well as text chat.

See you tomorrow!

I wasn’t happy with two of the images for Dragon Heresy. They’re signature images that were originally part of the first set of “this is how the book will look” color proofs. Now the proof finals are in.

I received the adjusted prints in the mail today, and they’re much better.

There’s not a ton of difference between them but there are a few details that were important that they not be lost in low-contrast/over-dark images.

But these are good. So that means that I’ll send one final reminder on Backerkit, and then lock down shipping addresses. Please see to it that your shipping addresses are correct so there are no mistakes!

Guess that means it’s time to write another big check.

Here we go!

(If you missed the Kickstarter, pre-orders are still being taken! If you are worried about international shipping, I’ve got that covered through splitting off some books to a fulfillment helper in Korea, which will cut the price tag of that quite a bit)

This update will be quick, because I’ve got writing to do today. Plus, you know: day job.

Hall of Judgment: We passed $10K this weekend, passed the total number of backers and pre-order backers from Dragon Heresy, and that’s amazing. Keep it up! In terms of forward progress, I can say that I’m basically down to writing the encounter descriptions for the last half of the ruins, and filling out encounter details for the two bonus mini-dungeons. Glynn and I had an actual video call last night to chat about doing something cool with the mini-dungeon maps but respecting the boundaries of scope. Scope creep makes for unhappy artists, and I like my artists happy. I have two finished maps in hand, one in progress, and I need to provide sketches for the final two. After the encounter descriptions are done, it’s all mechanical conversion work: stat blocks and difficulty tests and skill level penalties. The most difficult part here will likely be doing a visually interesting but still fairly simple presentation for monsters and characters from a layout perspective; I have ideas and sketches, but I’m not an Illustrator or InDesign professional and that will be, mostly likely, a full day of pain for me. Once it’s done, though: lather, rinse, repeat. Then some final playtesting, comments, etc. I’m talking to printers and fulfillment services in the UK; I think I can manage to get “not the USA” shipping down to a flat $15 or so. That’s not spectacular, but it’s not horrible. Still working it. I don’t like $15 shipping for a $25 book, though. UK shipping from the UK would still be about $8. It’s all very complicated.

Dragon Heresy Introductory Set: I pushed the very truly final PDF to backers and the 300dpi/200MB PDF-X/1a file to the printer. I received “wet proofs” of the cover (gorgeous!) and digital proofs of specified pages (mostly outstanding; two key images were too dark for my taste and I asked them to adjust). They forgot to send me wet proofs of the color end sheets, and are rectifying that. I suspect we’ll be out of proof phase by next Monday, which means into print phase. From there, it would be a few weeks to print and validate the books. Once I finalize what is to be printed, I will need to lock down addresses and make arrangements to split the order for international backers. That’s on me, though, and I have a plan.

Venture Beyond: No link for this one (yet), but David and I had a few exciting conversations about Venture Beyond, and things are moving again. That’s good news.

Other Product: I will probably take a short breather when I get DH and HoJ finished. There are things I’ve been putting off a bit that need to happen at home. But after that, I have at least two Dragon Heresy/Etera (and maybe Norðlond?) modules to write, and one of those, The Citadel at Northwatch, has enough done on it already that it should be a fairly quick writing job. The pattern I’m using for Hall of Judgment – details about a town or towns for expanding the background, local color, and important personalities, followed by the adventure, and then a bestiary if needed, is a good outline and I intend to repeat it. I had a conversation with an old friend who reminded me of a campaign I ran a while back, and how it would be amazing as a stand-alone RPG. So it would. I’ve got at least five (including Venture Beyond) concepts or projects on the “let’s consider this” burner that are written by not-me.

Gaming Ballistic: I have to say it: with revenue from Dragon Heresy and the HoJ Kickstarters looking to be something on the order of $25,000 between the two of them, it would appear that on a single-year basis, we’re steaming towards being profitable in 2018. If DH and/or HoJ (especially DH, since I will have over 1,000 books in my basement) moves successfully into distribution, Amazon, and other vectors, that could get even better, perhaps erasing the net-negative total cash flow since GB was started. It usually takes 4-5 years for this transition, and I’m looking good for doing that on schedule. Knock on wood and all that, but 2018 feels like an inflection point. We shall see.

In Update 9 (and a few before) I mentioned a new reward level. This $250 pledge is a seat at the table with me at GameHole con, where I’ll run Hall of Judgment for those that attend. There will be six reserved seats, and two open seats for walk-ups.

The game will start at 4pm Central Time on Friday, November 9, and run for four hours. Pregens will be provided – possibly by you! Supplying a pre-gen is one of the reward levels.

You will also get every book I’ve made so far in print and PDF. They’re mostly for That Other Game, but Dragon Heresy in particular has a lot of setting and culture information to supplement the non-trivial amount of such information added to Hall of Judgment.

As I noted: you are responsible for your own badge, transport, lodging, and timeliness. We’ll be set up in DorkStock, the Con-within-a-Con celebrating John Kovalic’s work.

The reward level goes live in TEN MINUTES, at 10am Central Time.

If they’re all gone? There will be a chance for a second table, but scheduling is still being worked out and I’ll only launch that one if this one fills up.

See you in Madison!

The full-color backer reward for the PDF for the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set was distributed over the weekend. Pushing it out on June 17 puts it in about six weeks (44 days, in fact) ahead of the promised date. Am I proud of that?

Yes. Yes I am.

But I’m not done until the books are in your hands (and mine!).

Print Production

Actual pages from the UK printer that will likely be doing the color print books, unless we hit the big goal at $16KSo, I set the final print files to render this morning, a process which takes about an hour or so to complete even on my Ryzen 2700X/GeForce 1070 setup. (I think I need more RAM and an NVMe SSD instead of my current one if I’m going to make more books like this).

It’s a holiday in Hong Kong, so taking the extra day and sleeping on it let me make a few corrections to the text that slipped through (I got some advice on my faux-Icelandic from an actual Icelander, including the fact that what I thought was “leg-lizard” – fiðrildi and fiðrildar – actually translates to “butterfly.”

Curse you, Google Translate!

So they’re going to be renamed göngeðla, (GOYNG-edthla) which is “tunnel lizard.” Which is what they are, so there we go. I also added the weight for deer (’cause they’re tasty, tasty mobile meat) and a few bits of other minor stuff.

I’ll spool out an update in a week or so for the PDF, probably about the same time I upload the PDF to my website and DriveThru.

Schedule Non-Update

Non-update? Well, I’m on schedule, so there’s not much to change.

Tonight at about 6pm CST I will upload a roughly 200MB file to the printer’s FTP server. They will “pre-flight” the document (which I already did in InDesign) and hopefully tell me that all my settings were correct.

And if things go wrong? if we have some errors on p. 128?

It’s not too late. I can send single pages all the way through the proofing process. I, of course, hope to not have to do this.

Even so, it will be 4-6 weeks for proofing and setup and then printing. Somewhere in that 5th-6th week (end of July) the printing will be done and they go “on the boat” (literally, in this case) and will make the transit to the USA. My understanding is that there’s a GPS tracker on said ship, so monday updates will feature a nifty screenshot of “where are your games right now?”

As noted, a smaller box will get shipped, also by ocean freight, to Korea, where they’ll be delivered to a fulfillment partner who does this sort of thing as a favor to indie gamers. There are maybe 30-50 books (so far!) that will go this route.

So another six to eight weeks after THAT, they’ll have arrived on your doorsteps.

As always, I will endeavor to exercise Project Management Fu to pull this in if possible, and mitigate delays where it’s not.

Pre-Order if You Want This to Not-the-USA

As reviews and interest come in, you might think to yourself “Where can I get this new thing?”

Right now, pre-orders are being hosted on Backerkit. Real Soon now, that will transition to my own website, as well as other places.

I will say this: if you’re not from the USA, a pre-order is the very best way to get the hardback. In 4-6 weeks, the printing process will be completed, and books will roll out onto the container ship.

But another, smaller set of boxes will ship to a contact in Korea, who will then put them in the mail to their final not-the-USA destinations from there. Shipping will be faster and much, much less than within the USA.

So if you’re interested in the 288-page, 128gsm paper, sewn-binding, full-color, round back hardcover book (with spot finish!) that will hopefully have production values worthy of Symbaroum (the touchstone I’m trying to approximate for quality) please pre-order your hardcover now!

Hall of Judgment

I would do myself a disservice if I didn’t mention that I’ve got another project launching tomorrow. This is the first-every third-party license for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS) from Steve Jackson Games, and I got it.

It launches tomorrow, and if you’re also a GURPS player, you’ll want to check it out.

More from Dragon Heresy?

Well, yeah.

I’ve got two self-written mini- or micro-settings in the hopper for Level 1-5 support. There are a lot of Level 1-5 options for character classes, races, and of course Feats that didn’t make the cut that I will likely put into a chargen expansion volume. A fellow gamer and writer wants to do an adventure in my setting, with my game, and I’m thrilled about that.

I’ll also finally be standing up a website dedicated to Dragon Heresy in the next few weeks as well.

OK. That’s it for Monday. Hope you enjoy the game!

So here we are. The last week before the interior files get submitted.

What did we do, and what does that mean?

Production Process

We’re really down to two basic tasks at this point: art insertion and proofing.

Proofing continues. It’s a big document and we keep finding things. Most are small. Some are annoying. Much like Pokemon, I’d like to catch ’em all.

I need to regenerate the spells index and the monsters index, which requires saving a new file and doing a “local” index, then copy/pasting that into the document. It’s no big deal, and right before the files get exported at full resolution for printing, I’ll regenerate both the Table of Contents and the Index one last time.

The art is the last thing. I’m down to the last few pieces and these are easily accomplished by a responsive team (see prior gushing update).

The COVER is the farthest along. I decided that dangit, I want round-back rather than square back (think ACKS or Symbaroum rather than Shadows of Esteren, GURPS books, or the DnD hardcovers), and I had to regenerate the cover to fit the new template. Then the spot-finish files. That didn’t take long, and the printing company is looking at them today and should tell me “yeah, these are good” tomorrow.

The hyperlinking is done. The active ToC is done.

I made a few usability changes to the style, so conditions are now bolded as terms of art. So (as an example), two creatures might have each other grappled, but one is restrained, while the other is only grabbed. Bold for game-mechanics, plain-text for plan-language use.

PDF Rewards Distribution

Net/Net: I plan on spooling out the PDF for final reward distribution this coming weekend. That means next week (June 18-22) your PDFs will be sent out, which if I can get that done on Monday, will mean PDF is 6 weeks ahead of schedule.

This also means I’ll do a brief clean-up on Lost Hall of Tyr and Dungeon Grappling PDFs for those that ordered them, and get all of the PDF rewards out next week. I might distribute these through DriveThruRPG – at-cost downloads for PDFs are really easy, and the updating and archiving of DriveThruRPG products is just easier and better than backerkit.

Printing Timeline

As noted before, it’s a 12-week process by design, plus another 2 weeks for in-the-USA shipping. So if the official “go time” for the printer is Monday June 18, we’re on track for all backers to have their book the last week in September (by Sept 24). We’ll see if we can hold to that schedule or beat it; there are 2-3 weeks of potential pull-in, and of course infinite possibilities for delays.

Still: I think you’ll get the books in September rather than October, so that meets my goals of “on or before the promised date.”

Hall of Judgment for Dungeon Fantasy RPG

If you like Lost Hall of Tyr and are also a fan of Steve Jackson Games’ Dungeon Fantasy RPG (Powered by GURPS), then you might also like to know that some time ago, I was granted a license to convert Lost Hall to the DFRPG system.

This is the first license of its kind for the DFRPG. I am pleased and humbled.

That being said, Lost Hall could use some improvement. It is a fairly linear convention scenario designed to show off the Dungeon Grappling system for 5e and OSR games. When played as a one-shot or at a convention, it works beautifully for that purpose.

However, putting it into a living campaign it suffers a bit. Too many constraints.

Well, Hall of Judgment will fix that.

First, I’m updating the interior look a bit to clearly differentiate it from Lost Hall.

Second, there will be a lot more “agency” in the game, with Isfjall (in DFRPG parlance, “Town”) getting a more detailed treatment modeled after the information presented in Sean Punch’s wonderful “Caverntown” mini-setting.

There will be a new map, courtesy of The Midderlands’ Glynn Seal, that will feature both GM and Player-centric views.

There will be no fewer than three new “mini-dungeons” to explore, to allow some things hinted at in the Lost Hall of Tyr version to bear full fruit in Hall of Judgment.

Monsters will be updated to DFRPG standard, with intent to not duplicate existing creatures. Pre-gen characters will also be provided, likely 6-8 choices.

The Kickstarter for this version of the product is set to launch June 19 (next week!), and once the upgrades are done, I will back-convert the new edition of the scenario to Dragon Heresy. If you got Lost Hall of Tyr as an add-on to the Dragon Heresy KS, you’ll get a free copy of the new updated Dragon Heresy PDF if you back the new Kickstarter, and and discounted copy of the Dragon Heresy PDF even if you don’t back it.

I’d appreciate it if you backed it, though.

Future Dragon Heresy Plans

I’m not even remotely done with Dragon Heresy.

I have no fewer than four concepts on the drawing board.

The mini-setting tentatively called The Citadel at Northwatch was given some visibility on the Roles to Astonish Twitch stream. It’s a solid adventure with several connecting parts, playable as a sandbox, that is designed for beginning adventurers. It will likely fall between 16-48 pages, ideally 24-32.

A much larger setting project called The Hunted Lands will cover many interacting things going on in this very dangerous area.

A To-Be-Named third-party scenario, again as a mini-setting, will look at an area closer to the coast.

Finally, a player character expansion with more backgrounds, classes, and races is on the docket to fill out level 1-5 of all thing things I wanted to put in the book but couldn’t fit.

That’s just what I’m working on right now. There’s lots more in me noodle.

Thanks for coming with me this far, and I look forward to giving you your PDF rewards next week!

Where We Stand

A quick Kickstarter status update this Memorial Day.

The Dragon Heresy is at 283 pages of a 288 page allowance. That means that there’s room to play with things if I have to, and if we come down to the final moment and I still have that left, I may well add a few backgrounds to the existing list to pad it out.

I chose a printer and will be sending them their initial payment this week, probably tomorrow, but there’s no rush here. We’re doing GREAT for schedule thus far; I’d love to keep it that way.

Note that “the home stretch” is something like three months long, due to shipping schedules. Still – it is the home stretch. It’s just a long one.

Art Status

I have seen sketches for many of the items, and several final items have been submitted. That’s not bad considering there are still two weeks until the art deadline. Right now the monster section is still in need of some pieces.

Layout and Editing Status

The indexing and ToC are complete and reasonably sensible. Some of the entries suffer from an excess of vagueness. Etera is followed by dozens of page references with no context, for example. I’m not sure that’s terribly useful. I’d rather look for the two or three IMPORTANT subtopics and hit those explicitly than just two dozen page numbers.

For editing, the page count and subject matter is done with the first pass. Now it’s a massive spell-check, typo-check, and grammar check. Ensuring that all sentences make sense, no missing words or phrases, etc. This is a word-for-word read with an eye for detail.

The last thing that really needs doing is putting in hyperlinks for references. I’m a bit bummed that there doesn’t SEEM to be a way of automatically linking the index pages as bookmarks, but I’m not done looking yet. The ToC bookmarks work fine. I suppose if you’re in Interactive mode you can just search or go to the right page. So really it’s the cross-references that need doing. I’ll take care of that.

The only other layout task is style unification That should really take care of it. Other than art, proofing, and the index topic tweak – especially proofreading – we’re ready to go to print. If we can get the layering and the hyperlinks/references in place, we’re ready for final PDF distribution.

As I noted: things are looking strong. I will push a penultimate file next week – probably next Sunday. Since I will be ordering 1,500 books, and only shipping out 250 of them or so, it’s important to me to catch all the typos I can, and as backers, you can help me with that. Digital files are easy to update with typo fixes. Print copies . . . not so much.

Shields

Six backers pledged for shields. One has his already. Two more are in the final stages, and may well be finished today, certainly by the end of the week. The final three I’ll start on soon; I need to get the proper size poplar for one of the shields, and the other is already laid up as a blank. Those were promised in October along with the print books; safe to say that they’ll be in everyone’s hands by the end of June.

Finishing Up

That’s really looking like it. I pushed through the Backerkit closure yesterday, as promised. there are still about 3-4 folks pending settlement of funds/cards, and I’ll gently ping you privately over the next few days.

The remainder is really just following through with finalization of the PDF and getting the print files – cover and interior – off to the printer. Then y’all won’t see/hear much for a few weeks at a time, as the QC process goes through a few stages of proofing and approvals, with the process designed to have the books “on the boat” six weeks after I submit the files, which I’m targeting for June 16. They’re designed to show up in MN five or six weeks after THAT, which will be the week of Sept 3-7 if things go well.

US Media Mail usually takes about two weeks after that, maximum. So print copies should be in folks’ hands by Sept 22.

International Backers will follow a slightly different path. When the books are done, a few 10-book boxes will be shipped to Korea. That’ll take about a week. Then the fine folks at Dice Latte will put them in the post to all of the “not-the-USA” destinations. Depending on the speed of that method, it’s possible that they’ll arrive before the US books even show up on my doorstop. We shall see – this is a bit of an adventure for me as well.

This page is a placeholder for reported errata and requests for clarification or wording changes for the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set. The PDF files were pushed out May 14!

The Ground Rules

First off, the basic book from the first page to p. 173 is basically edited, laid out, and ready for art insertion. So any “please change X to Y” requests cannot break the layout. So if you’re asking for a rephrase, if it doesn’t fit, I either will change it to make it fit or I can’t do it at all.

For Foes, p. 174 through p. 292, we are in dire need of a 4-page haircut. I expect I know from where this will come; 2-3 pages likely from the editing process, and then we’ll tighten up Beasts a bit.

Yeah. About those Beasts. Luke Campbell is extremely passionate about animals and their capabilities. He wrote the section, and tried to include every bit of game-relevant detail, some of it much more so than a 5e-based game would usually provide. If you cast speak with animals and want to read the bad guys’ secret plans, you need to pick the right creature. This section goes perhaps overboard on that, but overboard is easy to cut. Suggestions welcome.

The character sheet at the end of the book is not form-fillable. It’s on my list.

But basically, if requesting/identifying an opportunity for change, I need the following in your comment:

  1. The page number and location of the issue
  2. The entire original text you want changed, with From: “blah, blah, bitty bitty blah, I’m stuffy give me a scone.”
  3. The substitute text you want to be in its place, as follows: To: “blah blah bitty blah, I’m so stuffy give me a scone.”
  4. A quick note why you want the change. “The information you have is a quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and was misquoted.

For some things, it might be as simple as:

p. 1234; Section on “impaling and dismemberment”

From: dismbemerment

To: dismemberment

Why: typo

Reported Issues List

p. 8; Section on Wound Maximum, third and fourth paragraphs.

The first sentence of each paragraph (“Strength Modifier.” and “Size Multiplier.” respectively) should be bolded.

p. 17; paragraph on “Aldurverk”, second and third sentences.

From: To become an adult, a dwarf must kvoldomurstrate
a skill through an aldurverk, or “age project.” Adurverks may
be crafting of weapons or armor, creating works of literature
or magic, or kvoldomurstration of martial prowess.

To: To become an adult, a dwarf must demonstrate
a skill through an aldurverk, or “age project.” Adurverks may
be crafting of weapons or armor, creating works of literature
or magic, or demonstration of martial prowess.

Why: Likely a find-and-replace error (“demon” -> “kvoldormur”).

p. 22; Under “Matriarchal Structure”, third paragraph, second sentence..

From: The mother dragonborn views her leaving home as a matter of pride, a kvoldomurstration of strength of will and maturity.

To: The mother dragonborn views her leaving home as a matter of pride, a demonstration of strength of will and maturity.

Why: Likely a find-and-replace error (“demon” -> “kvoldormur”).

p. 26; Section on “Tiefling”, first sentence

From: A tiefling he progeny of a union between a human and a fiend.

To: A tiefling is the progeny of a union between a human and a fiend.

Why: typo

p. 46 – Song of Steel

From: can bestow a d6 inspiration die per short rest

To: Can bestow half proficency (round down) to weapons or tools, bestowing skald must be present to activate

Why: right now, the wording theoretically allows every single tool and weapon and piece of ammo to be tuned in town, perhaps even by a friendly skald or skald troupe, every time. That wasn’t the point. The mechanics of this are too close to what the basic skaldic inspiration die IS, and so it needs tuning and limits. So: half proficiency as the bonus, maximum tuning that can ever be active is CHA bonus, skald must be present and spend their reaction to activate the ability. This will require a rewrite.

p. 112 – Art Page/Flyting Rules

From: Art page

To: Flyting

Why: forgot to include the flyting rules, which should fit on one page. Can move the art elsewhere!

p. 166 – Entire Map

From: white pixels included in bottom image of map

To: remove pixels

Why: image placement error

P279 under “shield proficiency”
From: “Each size of shield is a separate proficiency. Each class that is proficient with shields may choose to be proficient with up to two shield size types that are of equal or smaller size than”
To: the heaviest armor with which they are proficient.
Why: typo end of last sentence missing/incomplete.

 

TBD

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. Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Progress Report To-dos and To-done’s”