I’ll send one of these out weekly on Monday. This will keep people informed but not become spam. So welcome to the first Monday Progress Update. Eventually this will include progress on other products as well.

Location Surveys for Shipping

We’ve got just shy of half the folks who have answered the location survey, which isn’t bad at all. The purpose of this three-question survey is to figure out the best way to get your books to you.

International shipping is a hot mess, and always has been. In all probability I’m going to be printing in the UK, Latvia, Korea, or China . . . all of which offer low/lower-cost shipping to “rest of world.”

My intent is to use the surveys to ask these vendors to hold back a box or two of books from the print run. Then either ship them themselves direct to you guys or to send them to a third party who will individually mail them out for me. That should save quite a bit of money on that.

So: please fill out the survey! There are only three questions; it should take you less than five minutes. Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Monday Progress Update”

Well FRACK ME!! We DID IT!

I’m going to put this one right at the feet of one guy. A fellow MN native put in for two more shields. That tossed it over the edge for a full color offset print run with nine minutes left.

So now, EVERYONE GETS COLOR. I will work with my printers to find an offset print run that is the best book I can make.

I honestly didn’t think this would happen earlier today . . . so I thank you deeply for your trust and your funds.

Wow.

Thanks . . . and we got the print run. Awesome.

THANK YOU! I am amazed and awed

When we did almost $5,000 in the first two days, I was hopeful.

When the velocity slowed down, and for a bit it really looked like we’d have fewer backers than Lost Hall of Tyr, I was distressed.

But NOTHING prepared me for the last two days. And really nothing prepared me for the last two hours.

But we did it. Offset print is yours. Color books are yours. Jarls and above get color. Probably something like 125-140gsm silk matte paper (83-95#), sewn binding. 3.0mm boards. Did I mention SEWN FREAKING BINDING!?!

Basically, I’m going to ship you a book that looks like Symbaroum. I always wanted to do that, and thanks you you fine folks, now I can.

I’m giddy.

Now I will drink wine (Apothic Inferno), and had I realized this last two hours would have been so exciting, I’d have bought mead to be thematic.

I will be structuring my plans over the next few days, and getting backerkit ready. A big part of that is pre-orders, and that’s where we’ll deal with shipping.

For now . . . thank you so much for taking this ride with me. I cannot wait to get the book into your hands, and now I know it will indeed be the best possible book I can put together.

As of this morning, 60 of 196 eligible voters have filled out the additional content voting form. Thank you!

Currently, here’s the tally:

  • Several Alternate Combat Rules (2000 words) in the lead with 184 points
  • Skald Class (2000 words) with 140 points
  • All Cleric Domains (3,000 words) with 109 points
  • Berserker Path of Primal Runes (650 words) with 107 points
  • Feats (3700 words) with 99 points
  • Four Additional Backgrounds (2,700 words) with 96 points
  • Shield Size and Type (1,100 words) with 94 points

The next point totals below that are 73 points and it drops rapidly from there.

The above list has more than the 10,000 allotted words I can probably fit, but I wanted to show you the tally.

Commentary

Big shields and small shields and magic shields and . . . The feats are fun, but also the most potentially issue-filled part of any rules addition. They have to be carefully considered and balanced, which is fine. I’ve got a calculator for combat feats that can help things.

The backgrounds, in my limited experience, are a bit like starting equipment. Soon forgotten after play starts. Other folks’ experience may vary, of course, and since this game focuses on Level 1-5 play, the characters aren’t that far from their backgrounds in the game.

The additional shield rules are fun, and a key component of the game. They enable having bucklers to tower shields, metal reinforcement, and discuss what happens with a magical shield. They are, however, more fiddle. That being said, thus far “more fiddle” is winning the contents, so there’s that.

Additional Rules

I honestly didn’t expect this one to hit the top (at least thus far), but here are the additional rules topics:

  • Stacked Advantage/Disadvantage: Rolling 3d20 or more when conditions apply
  • Facing and Flanking: Rules for what constitutes each. Has illustrations which make this more bulky in terms of page count.
  • Weapon Heft: What happens when you try and parry a greataxe with a dagger
  • Lethality Switches: Disallowing frantic defense and more realistic healing rates
  • DEX and STR in Combat: DEX for attack rolls, STR for damage. STR bonuses for strong bows fits here too

Winding Down

So that’s where we stand! If projections continue, we’ll finish the Kickstarter around $13,000, which is pretty cool. Not “guaranteed offset print run” cool, but pretty cool nonetheless.

As always, a bit of social media boosting helps, and in particular, it would not take many Favorite Local Game Stores to make retail orders to make that print run happen. That’s a win for everyone.

I’m still looking at improving the quality of the books. I should be getting quotes in mid-week, but these things are unpredictable.

More news as events warrant.

More later, but thank you all so much for helping the project hit its first stretch goal.

My goals tend to be major, and far apart. This one is no different, and the extra content survey will go out sometime today. Maybe quite quickly, since my day job computer refuses to boot up anymore.

Thanks again to all who have pledged

Dungeon Grappling gets a shout-out

I got a very nice review of my first book, Dungeon Grappling, over at Steven E’s video review channel Complete Nonsense. The philosophy and spirit animating the rules were the same as with Dragon Heresy: get it fun, get it fast, get it right. That came through to the reviewer, who said nice things about the book.

Next Goal!

The next official goal is the offset print run at $16,000. That’s not impossible if we get an uptick in velocity. On the other hands, as I mentioned earlier, I’m starting to get some very interesting print quotes in, with more expected this week. I’ll see how things shake out, but I’m cautiously optimistic that fun things might happen at $12,000 instead of $16,000, even if not full-on offset run awesome is a bit distant.

For now, spread the word, and let’s press on. That next goal is only 12 skjald-hirð pledges, 60 Styðja, or about 125 more folks if the average pledge holds. That’s just not that many folks in the grand scheme of things. Spread the word, and let’s make an even better book.

Thanks again!

Access is one of the more jealously guarded privileges in hierarchical systems, and social standing reinforced status, but also kept the big dogs ideally focused on the issues they need to be concerned with. Details of policy and realm health, maurauding fae raids, and magical curses. The important stuff.

The rules below are a revision of a new insertion to the Dragon Heresy set, and seemed like a good idea when in my recent streaming play the 1st-level characters seemed bound and determined to head off to see the hajarl or a merchant prince personally. I deflected it in play by having a lower-rank NPC, who happened to be related to the merchant prince, take the call instead. Why pick up dice if you don’t have to?

But some sort of guideline for whether or not an influential person will take the PCs request seemed wise.

Plus: if you’re wondering, this is basically an equivalent of “you get XP for gold.” The wealthier and more successful you are, the more ships, fortresses, and troops you commend, the nicer your armor, weapons, and clothing, the more you look the part of the mighty hero. It’s also a good way to look at how a sheltered offspring of a powerful noble might be a 1st-level or lower character, but still be worthy of dealing with seriously: good Persuasion due to charisma and practice, plus tremendous status and resources. Suddenly not all lords have to be 15th level fighters or mages (though many will be)!

The rules here aren’t final. I may flip it around a bit and instead make the Social Standing a passive check, and recast this as a 2d10 or 3d6 roll for a “reaction” with relative standing as a modifier (so it’s a single, player-facing roll instead of a contest). A passive score will also allow a quick comparison: “no, you’re more than 20 lower than Lord Robert; the best way to get the hajarl’s ear is to approach Lady Alina, the newly-appointed jarl of one of his vassal towns; she’s a jarl, but of lower standing and might treat more equally with you, and SHE can bring your petition before Robert.”

None of the concepts below should replace good roleplay, but they will help guide things. I may yet flatten things out a bit; pretty much anyone could step in front of the Thing/Althing to speak, and the kind of disparity in social standing was a continental thing more than a viking thing. But the core is there, and this basic concept is easily portable into other games: apparently this works out fairly well using ACKS’ native level tables as well.

So there we go. Here’s the Dragon Heresy version of “XP for gold.”

As the Kickstarter winds down, today I’m going to write rules for “flyting,” a ritual poetic contest of insults. That will complete the “alternate rules work” that I want to do to provide options for conflict and conflict resolution that don’t involve pointed sticks. Between flyting and grappling and access restrictions found below, there are plenty of ways to challenge the party without relying n always breaking out weapons.

From here, I will get busy with writing “Identify Fiend or Foe” advice for my monsters, and ensuring that some of the “I’ll do this later” parts of the ms are finally complete.  Continue reading “Dragon Heresy Rules Excerpt: Social Standing”

Greetings, fellow Torengur! We’re entering the third weekend of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter, and things look pretty good.

Another Skjald-hirð Joins the Battle!

We had a great day yesterday, driven largely by another stalwart joining the ranks of the Skjald-hirð. He’s asked for a sweet, sweet paint job on his shield, too. Dark blue background, with a gold torc, one boar-head, one deer-head, holding the Ingwaz rune between them. All of these symbolize Freyr, who is Yngwi Lifegiver in Dragon Heresy.

This is a personal shield project I just finished, and except the boss (which I used because I had it; it’s too heavy and too large by far), is a good example of what the shields will look like. The heads here are dragon heads. I can do boars, ravens, dragons, bears, stags, and wolves.

The dragon-torc of house Iyiling
The dragon-torc of house Iyiling

The ansuz-rune is the rune of the Asfolk martial arts school at which I’m learning viking-style fighting. You can see the school and me throwing an axe here in the designer’s notes video.

Progress

In the background things are moving in terms of production. I got the first edits from Vince in the mail yesterday, looked them over, and found them worthy. He’s tightening up my language and poking at holes in the thought process.

The entire pre-production team: layout, editing, and indexing, is now being brought in on the communications so we can parallel process the assembly and finalization of the book.

That being said, there are things yet to do, by me, from a writing perspective.

  • I’ve got a neat idea for a way to differentiate between combat prowess and reputation and status. Think of it as an alternate take on “gold for XP” from the old-school days.
  • I am determined to write and add a small section on flyting – a poetic ritual exchange of insults common in viking lore and culture that provides another avenue to victory other than murder-hoboism. Between fisticuffs, weapons, grappling, and flyting, there are many options for dispute and challenge resolution in Dragon Heresy, which is outstanding.
  • Finally, I’m going through the monster section and adding “Identify Fiend or Foe” blocks, where the GM will be provided suggestions for tactically useful elements that can be known about monsters and other foes based on background and skill level.

All of this will be worked into the book, and much of it is already budgeted in terms of space and layout, so that won’t change the basic 256-page book size.

Stretch Goals

As of me typing this, the campaign is just shy of $700 off the $10,000 “more content” stretch goal. If we pass it, I’ll send out a survey to backers with some options of what I can include, which will push the size of the book upward a bit.

Once the ship is completed, what fine adventures we will have!I’m not quite ready to formally re-arrange my published stretch goals yet . . . but some quotes came in from printers that were very compelling. Very.

This has led me to look at options for standard and deluxe printing for the Jarl and Styðja tiers that may take a few more days to lock down.

I’ll tell you this, though: the numbers $12,000 and $16,000 are very significant. There’s another point at about $14,500 that’s significant to me as a publisher but not so much to y’all as backers.

I’m iterating with a few different folks on super-cool things to add for your pledge to the $100 tier. Faux-leather covers, or custom slip-cover, or just a deluxe printing with a dust jacket are all being considered. No decisions yet, and being that it’s bearing down hard on quitting time in the EU (all of the super-aggressive bids are from either the UK or Latvia) on a Friday, I might not be able to confirm much before early next week.

But I’m looking for ways to make both the Jarl and Styðja levels even more appealing. Skjald-hirð backers will get anything the Styðja level gets, of course!

The Final Countdown

This it is, and we’re into single digits. Now it’s in the hands of the Norns.

We’re tracking to around $14,000 if things keep on as they’ve been and we hit an uptick the last few days, which is typical. I still hope we can see enough acceleration to hit that offset print goal – I won’t lie to you: I dream of holding that book as specified in my hands!

For now, have a great weekend, and may all your raids be profitable!

At 4pm today CST we’ll hit precisely the midpoint of the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter campaign.

How are we doing? Pretty well.

Well, I mean, if we just wanted to fund, then we’re doing great, and it’s hard to argue with 235% funding! But that’s not really what I want, nor do I think it’s what you want either.

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

(apologies)

What I think we’d all like to see is that offset print run at $16,000. That will make an amazing book.

On the one hand, if the back half of the campaign mirrors the front, well, we’ve got a shot at it.

On the other hand, my personal projections show us hitting about $14,500, which is fairly close, but not quite there.

A daily pledge velocity of $400 or more (with an uptick at the end) will get us there.

That’s maybe two extra pledges per day than we’re getting, so some social media help as we round the halfway point would always help. Share on Twitter, Gab, Facebook, Google+, or wherever gamers gather. Share the podcasts – they’re good even beyond the context of Dragon Heresy. Mention the book at your FLGS and tell them there’s a retail level available. (Actually, let me help with that. I will make a flyer available sometime today you can email or print out and take with you.) Share my Discord Channel link and come by and ask questions or chat.

Streaming/Play Example on Rolls to Astonish

I’m going to try to try something later today, and record an actual-play example with five 5th level characters starting out in the city of Northwatch.

I’m writing an introductory micro-setting that will eventually see release. It might even see release before the final PDF of the Introductory Set goes out, in which case backers will get it free in PDF. Right now, it’s looking like six or eight different potential issues the PCs can get involved in.

No linear script, no follow the rails. Just things going on that need the PCs to help deal with them. Stay tuned for more!

Derek Knutsen-Frey and I chatted a lot about Dragon Heresy in a prior interview. It was a great chat. We also spent another hour (ish) talking about the business of game design. Even if I do say so myself, it’s a very good discussion.

EPISODE 171 – DOUGLAS COLE DRAGON HERESY PART 2

Other links:

RPG Development Costs

Economizing on RPG Development Costs

Well, the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter has funded. So that means that even with some “oops, I had a financial crisis” type stuff, we’re far enough in with long enough to go that I felt comfortable getting stuff moving.

Layout and Editing

As such, I have initiated the editing work. I’ve hired Vince Harper, who has worked extensively with Broken Ruler Games‘ Todd Crapper, to edit Dragon Heresy. He has all of the files.

(Todd did my layout on Lost Hall of Tyr, and we have become friends and collaborators.)

Anyway, that’s going on right now, during the Kickstarter. Speed is good.

I also got some nice work back from Michael on new layout for monsters, and I think I’ve got what we need.

This first one is a snapshot of the entry for Goblins. We’ve got smallish goblins, larger hobgoblins, and hobs bred for nothing but war and battle. The left column can support some art, as well as what will be a recurring theme in each entry: Identify Fiend or Foe.This will cover using the various skills (Nature, Religion, Arcana, Survival, History, etc.) that might provide tactically useful information, so that GMs and players can resolve some of that. These sorts of tidbits also provide insight into unique things about each creature.

Here’s a second one, on some undead:

You can’t really do Norse mythology without Vaettr and Raiðr. The Vaettr are dangerous, CR 3 foes, and that’s all by their lonesome. If they show up in groups, worry. If they show up in groups, with additional zombies they’ve created . . . run.

More Podcasts

I’m currently setting up two more podcasts and interviews. One with Matt Finch, who invited me on his show during the Tavern Chat yesterday.

The second . . . may be more interesting. No promises yet, but I’m working with the Delve Podcast guys and trying to see if we can do a short actual-play example.

Mostly, I want to try and kill ’em all. With Dragon Heresy, if they decide to just wade into the fray, I will certainly be able to do so.

Mwa. Ha. Ha.

Talk to y’all later!

Well, this is April in Minnesota, so naturally I woke to find about six inches of snow on the ground. Sigh. This state . . .

We had a great 24 hours, with over 80% of required funds collected. It was an excellent first day!

Podcasts Fall Like Rain

Over the next few days, you’ll probably see podcasts drop: Table Top BabbleDown with DnD, and Hobbs and Friends of the OSR. I’ve got a few more planned, and I could always use a few more suggestions.

What’s Up Next

This week is all about monsters. Right now, the monsters section lays out to 110 pages, which makes 260 pages of as-is layout. Toss in a title page, Kickstarter backer page, one or two pages for a Table of Contents (call it two), and roughly one page of index per 50 pages of book (call it 5-6 pages), and that’s about 10 extra pages. Makes for a single 270-page book, which isn’t bad, though it’s a bit longer than I’d like. If we hit the $10,000 stretch goal, there are about 14,000 words of pre-written content I’d like to add . . . another 23 pages.

There’s a lot of extra white space in the Foes section, though. I’d wanted to try and get each creature type on the top of a page, for easy reference, and to avoid the statblock from (say) one creature on a left-hand column, and a new creature on the right. Potentially confusing.

The counter-argument here is that for all the benefits of this strategy, it’s very space inefficient.

For every layout example we have of this:

Ethlafolk (lizard folk) lay out pretty well
Ethlafolk (lizard folk) lay out pretty well

You sometimes get some thing like this:

Hrogn (demon spawn) and Illt Hundr (Evil Hound)
Hrogn (demon spawn) and Illt Hundr (Evil Hound)

These are about half-empty . . .

Rats. Of course we've got rats.
Rats. Of course we’ve got rats.

…with some that show empty columns, though in this case, I’d rather leave it there and start Humanoids on the next page.

Well, a giant would fit in that space . . .
Well, a giant would fit in that space . . .

This is not an insurmountable problem, of course, and there’s lots of time. But it’s where I am right now. If you’ve got suggestions, leave ’em in the comments!

Major Milestones

The biggest milestone here is, of course, to fund. That’s a double-tap, though, because if we hit the funding goal, it means that I am guaranteed the funds to pay my editor. He’s already been selected, and he’s committed to timely delivery.

Once that happens, the only major task left for completing the book is indexing, then assembling the book pieces into a final draft, with all the small bits that make it a complete book. Then, of course, the process of layering and hyperlinking and bookmarking the PDF.

The project is far enough along that, presuming we fund, I can more or less promise that each backer will receive a playable copy of the rules (maybe with editing, maybe now) the day the Kickstarter funds settle: sometime mid-May.

From there, you’ll get 4-6 weeks to play the heck out of the game and ask questions and suggest tweaks should they be necessary. The game was playtested pretty well, but you’ll find things. Those will be tweaked by the end of June, and then we’ll get a final PDF and printable PDF going. That will take a few weeks to get proofs, then the bulk order . . .

So, that’s the plan! Thanks for joining early. If you can, throw down some social media boosts where you’re able, and let folks know that Dragon Heresy is happening.

Have a great week!