What Now?

Breathing is good and important. It’s been a real sprint here at Gaming Ballistic since April 1. That day, SJG and Gaming Ballistic announced the conversion of Lost Hall of Tyr to the Dungeon Fantasy RPGand the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set went live on Kickstarter.

Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment

A month later, I’d met the goal for an offset print run, and got busy – very busy – finishing up the PDF for Dragon Heresy. The PDF went out to backers on June 17; the printable PDF (higher resolution but flat file with no hyperlinks) went to AsiaPacific Offset on June 18. The Hall of Judgment Kickstarter launched June 19.

That one was my best Kickstarter yet. More backers than any of my prior projects by a long way, and frankly, a better “mix ratio” of print to PDF than other projects as well. Nearly 2/3 of backers wanted a physical copy of the book. My best estimates put that mix at 50%. Also: there were 1,587 backers of the box set RPG: 1/3 of that number is 529, which is coincidentally exactly the same number of backers that Hall of Judgment got. Since the typical group seems to be about 5 people including the GM, really anything more than a 20% hit rate is amazing, and Hall of Judgment did quite a bit better than that!

Fulfillment

The Dragon Heresy books are “on the water,” and should arrive at Studio 2 on October 8. I’ll get a sub-shipment of 320 books a few days later, so by the end of that week, I hope to have all domestic books in the mail, which means that with little room to spare, the “October” promised delivery date for all rewards will be met.

The first two cartons of Hall of Judgment (about 120 books) arrived at my house yesterday, and all of them but a few have been boxed up and mailed off already. The remaining five cartons should arrive at my house by noon today, and I will begin the process of finishing up shipment there. Folks will start receiving their books next week, then, and might extend into the 3rd week of September. The promised delivery date for rewards was August; some of our not-the-USA friends did actually get their physical copies in the trailing days of August, and I apologize to the US crowd for the month of delay. I do think, however, having finally held the book in my hands, that you will be pleased.

That does mean, though, that I’ve been hard at it for six months straight. It’s been a wee bit of a sprint, especially with a day job. But now my kids are back in school again and my schedule should be normalizing. I hope. That means my breather, such as it is, is over. Continue reading “A Pause to Breathe: OK, that’s done”

It’s fulfillment week for two of my Kickstarters, whose physical product are coming due at roughly the same time. So: dual-wielding emails! (I picked up that proficiency/specialization over the last few months)

Other Books

If you are not in the USA and ordered Dungeon Grappling or Lost Hall of Tyr  as a physical copy from either the Hall of Judgment or Dragon Heresy Kickstarters, your books are now on the way. I placed the orders for six folks for Dungeon Grappling, and two more for Lost Hall (both of those from the Dragon Heresy KS). I have contacted the backers with a personal email with a copy of the info forwarded to me, as well as an order number.

Any issues, let me know. The UK product should show up within two weeks. Italy shortly thereafter. The Australia/New Zealand can take days or weeks, depending on when things fall together. But do contact me if things don’t move sprightly as things go forward.

Hall of Judgment

I’ve heard from Kixto in the UK, and they’re in the process of filling the HoJ orders for international folks, after which they’ll forward the rest of the orders to me via airmail. That still means that it’s not crazy-talk for me to see a pallet of books on my floor by the end of the week, or perhaps the weekend. This weekend is a holiday weekend in the US (Labor Day) and I’ll be at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival all three days doing Viking Martial Arts demonstrations . . . but as soon as it’s remotely possible, I’ll bundle your HoJ books and any other physical product that you’ve ordered into one shipping box and get them on the way by next week at the latest. So on schedule for Sept 15.

Dragon Heresy

The Dragon Heresy books are still going to be the last to leave. The books are done, and 50 books will head over to Dice Latte in Korea as soon as a few customs issues are sorted out and folks get back from vacation. Then the international copies for both DH and HoJ Kickstarters will go out. Sometime this week, I expect the books (nearly 1,500 of them) to move to staging at the shipyard, and then three weeks on the water to the USA. Then another week to get to Studio 2 in TN, and finally they’ll break the order into “keep ’em!” and “ship to Doug” and then I’ll do fulfillment from my house. So six to seven weeks until books are in-hand: first two weeks in October, I suspect.

Again, the US orders that have Dragon Heresy in them will be sent in one bunch. I will not hold Hall of Judgment waiting for a Dragon Heresy bundle, so if you ordered Dragon Heresy through the HoJ Kickstarter and you’re in the USA, expect two packages: one with HoJ and Dungeon Grappling and/or Lost Hall of Tyr (if you ordered those) and another with Dragon Heresy.

If you’re on the Dragon Heresy KS, you’ll get everything at once.

Hall of Judgment now available on Gaming Ballistic and W23

The new adventure “Hall of Judgment” is now available for retail purchase at the Gaming Ballistic web store and on Warehouse 23 over at Steve Jackson Games.

From the blurb:

Hall of Judgment is set in the barbarian lands of the north (predictably called Norðlönd). It is designed to evoke the feeling of a nordic/viking culture without specifically invoking Norse myth and legend.

  • This product is a micro-setting and scenario for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS)
  • It features non-linear adventuring for 4-6 250-point characters
  • Explore a Viking-flavored world trekking through cold, harsh mountains, facing dangerous faerie, and searching for a lost holy place, and the priceless relics within
  • Easily portable and usable with any GURPS Fantasy campaign

The book contains:

Preface. Contains a brief discussion of the original volume and how it came to be converted to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Isfjall. The town is described in enough detail to serve as a base for further adventures.

The Journey. This section is broken out and expanded from the original volume. Random encounter tables, weather hazards, and other difficulties that arise when nature itself rises against you.

Lögheimili Ruins. A dangerous place. Full of evil it is. In you must go. A micro-dungeon! You don’t have to go in. Or come out.

Domstollinn. The core scenario. It is presented as a set of encounters that can be tackled (or not) in any order. An encounter includes a set of Challenges, telling the GM what must be overcome, Concealed information the players don’t know initially, Alternative ways to short-circuit, bypass, or otherwise not just Leroy Jenkins one’s way through a challenge, and Rewards, where appropriate.

Bestiary. Each monster that may be encountered in the scenario is given a description, statistics (including brief stats used with the Fantastic Grappling Quick-Start), and combat tactics to make each one unique. Over 30 creatures, nearly all of them new.

Fantastic Grappling Quick-Start. Even if you don’t have the book, you can still use the rules. Two pages of grappling the way it should be: fast, fun, and well-integrated with the DFRPG mechanics, using the control damage type first introduced in GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling, but refined and simplfied after years of play in multiple systems.

Pre-Gen Characters. Sixteen 250-point characters will be provided to allow the scenario to be played with minimal preparation; this adds to the excellent pre-gens already provided in the DFRPG boxed set.

All together, this is a complete adventure that can be run on its own or dropped into an existing campaign.

I sent Hall of Judgment preliminary files to the printer

They were accepted first try, as “ready to print.”

I expect that I’ll hear back from the printing liaison today, since it’s mid-afternoon in the UK, and we can make plans to get things moving forward. But I think that means the clock on printing has started.

Still waiting on final ship approval as folks get settled and Return from Gencon (with associated Con Crud expected, if you’ve been to one of those). But things are nipping along well.

Just a reminder: if you’re interested in a physical copy of the book, and you don’t live in the USA, the very best time to order it is right now, as shipping will only be this cheap if there’s enough back-order for me to get a reprint from not-the-USA. Sure, one day I’ll have POD copies available, but odds are they won’t be as good, as most POD tops out at 105gsm/70# paper for one (the book as ordered uses 140gsm/93# silk-coated paper), and are much, much more expensive to print, for another.

So, this should be an interesting week.

For one thing, I really don’t have much on my plate from a “writing games” perspective. This is the first time in about four months that this has happened, since Dragon Heresy was immediately (and I do mean right away) followed by Hall of Judgment.

Both are basically done, and out of my hands until it comes time for shipping. Even then, except for the day(s) printing postage and/or actually boxing up hundreds of books, I have those hours back. I’m about to go to sleep before midnight for the first time in a long time that didn’t involve sickness or simply collapsing from exhaustion.

Where do we stand?

Dragon Heresy PDF is long since shipped out. Not much response from it thus far; I hope that changes when the physical books arrive, and folks dig in and really read it. The changes to the base 5e SRD are somewhat simple, but provide a great deal of emergent behavior that everyone from GURPS players to OSR fans to 5e aficionados to Pathfinder folks should like.

This week should see the arrival by FedEx of the final signature, which I sent back for corrections. That was on my end, not theirs, so that delay is on me, but I saw a mistake (some formatting) and I fixed it. After that, I’ll give permission to print and bind, and then in a week or two I’ll start seeing advanced copies and basically be ready to give ship approval. About 30 copies will go out to backers of both the DH kickstarter and the HoJ one who live in “not the USA,” and the rest – about 1,470 of them – will come to my house, and about 250 (ish) will then depart for places here in the USA and Puerto Rico. Last week in September or first two weeks in October. So “on time,” if not “ahead of schedule.” Alas.

Also, within about 12-36 hours I should hear back from the Hall of Judgment printer in the UK about pre-press. I’ve paid my deposit (via PayPal! Yay! No wire transfers or certified checks) so I am as current with that vendor as I can be, and if they say “oh, yeah, these files work” I’ll give the go-ahead for printing, which means in about 3-4 weeks they’ll be done, and then another 2-3 weeks to get them sorted out and shipped and received. So really, all these books for both KS will arrive effectively simultaneously.

I’m very proud of both books. For one, they’re very, very pretty. For another, I think they’re legit good work.

But now I need more to do. Fortunately, I do not lack for options. If nothing else, I need to convert Hall of Judgment into Lost Hall of Tyr, 2nd Edition. Then it will be the adventure it needs to be.

More on that later.

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!