Glynn is hard at work on new maps for Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition), and below you can find a bit of history on the old maps, how he and I got to collaborate, and some WIP he’s willing to show.

Maps and Expenses

When Lost Hall of Tyr (1st Edition) was being made, I budgeted for a Kickstarter that equaled my first: about 300 folks. I also spent a bunch of money on a really prime piece of artwork that was (and still is) the most expensive single image I’ve yet procured.

(It is really awesome though.)

Even so, I couldn’t afford bespoke maps. Bogie Maps – and Dan was a pleasure to work with – had stock maps in hand, and was able to mildly customize a few for me using assets he already had.

As an example, he created a generic location for “Rival Claim” using a stock map. The advantage was obviously cost. The disadvantage was that it had no real tie to the adventure description: it was just a big map.

That has its charm, as it’s portable. And the full-scale combat maps are still part of the book package. But when I got the opportunity to upgrade content of the book for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG as Hall of Judgment, the project required more maps. Specific maps, that would let the linear convention-style demonstration adventure – Lost Hall’s purpose was to demonstrate the concepts in Dungeon Grappling – turn into something much more non-linear and sandboxy. Not a true sand-box; it is a quest adventure, after all. But something with more geography, and a lot more detail and options on the approach.

Glynn Seal’s The Midderlands

I got to know Glynn through his Midderlands kickstarter(s). I was impressed by his high production values on the book, and also with the quality of his cartography and artwork. Very evocative, and really brought the feeling he was going for to the work.

 

When I decided to produce new maps, and new locations, from the Village at Logiheimli to the Goblin Warrens (two of them!) to make mincemeat out of adventurers . . . um, provide a suitable challenge for adventurers . . . I reached out to see if he was available for commission.

Well, he was.

Logiheimli; an Easy Choice

He was (and remains) extremely easy to work with. I sent really, really coarse sketches of what I was looking for – I’m a stick-figure kind of guy when it comes to de novo art creation, though I’m a fair hand at digital compositing of existing work.

He turned it into something glorious, which is of course included in Lost Hall 2nd Edition.

So when it came time to upgrade the maps such as Rival Claim to something better as part of the Lost Hall 2nd Edition conversion . . . Glynn was the obvious choice.

I sent him some art notes, and of course he has a copy of Hall of Judgment since he worked on it (and super-easy to get it to him, since the books were printed in the UK).

Now that the New Year is here, he’s already hard at work, and has documented his creation of the new Rival Claim map on his blog.

I can’t recommend Glynn enough as a creator and a collaborator.  You can see the first of seven new maps below . . . stay tuned for more, and of course please help steer your friends and Favorite Game Store folks to the Pre-Order page!

Thanks for staying with me!

Update on Surveys

The “Smoke Test,” which vets the survey for effectiveness and function, is nearly complete. I will likely send it out to all backers shortly.

It will run for three full weeks, during which time I hope you’ll help me get the word out, as the Pre-Order Store is open, and if we can hit extra stretch goals during that time, I’m all for it.

I should be seeing the initial Kickstarter campaign funds settle sometime between today and Sunday. That will allow me to, in earnest, get cracking on the finalization of text, maps, and printing.

That’s it! Hope you guys had Holiday breaks that were eventful in only good ways.

Also, if you’re curious to how 2018 treated Gaming Ballistic, read about it below and see what’s coming next.

Gaming Ballistic 2018 Year in Review

It’s that time again, and on the first day of the New Year, it’s time to do a retrospective, a Gaming Ballistic 2018 Year in Review.

Summary

Here’s the skinny.

The Blog

  • Averaged 4.25 posts per week, 220 posts total for the year. Best year ever was 307 in 2016.
  • Lower unique content delivery in general, as things focused on the publishing end
  • Maintained good fidelity to GURPSDay
  • Need to re-energize the blog side of things in 2019

The Company

  • Ran three successful Kickstarters in one year! The first two continued my record of “on time or early” on my KS projects, making me four-for-four. The last one kicked off in December, and while it’s on schedule, can’t be considered early, late, or other just yet.
  • Dragon Heresy got published as a Level 1-5 Introductory Set, in what is the best-feeling RPG book I’ve ever handled. Really: the production values are stunning and compare with anything the big dogs (or anyone else) have made. It’s a great book with great content, and I’m very proud of it.
  • Hall of Judgment became the first-ever, and currently only, licensed product for SJG’s Dungeon Fantasy RPG
  • HoJ was run at several conventions, including GameHole Con by me, and was quite popular
  • HoJ was my most successful KS to date in terms of backer count (over 500), and post-KS sales have been good. Counting PDF and Print sales individually (which means if you bought a print and PDF copy, you get counted twice), Hall of Judgment has moved over 1,000 copies, making it my most popular product to date. GURPS folks have been good to me.
  • GB was profitable by a few thousand bucks (more on that in the coming weeks) in 2018. If sales of the Dragon Heresy core book take off even a little, this will provide a vital source of revenue to support ongoing work. I have since learned that what I thought were zero sales in December (true) was expected; first actual sales coming in January, with 25 pre-orders confirmed, with more expected! This is unexpected wind in my sails (sales?).
  • I received three additional contracts for more expansions for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG in 2019! The releases will be spread through the year. The first title will be The Citadel at Norðvörn and it should enter crowdfunding in the first quarter of 2019.
  • A second edition of Lost Hall of Tyr was successfully crowd-funded, but once again I was shocked at how few folks backed the project based on my pre-campaign market analysis.
  • Marketing and outreach needs to be a priority for 2019 if I’m going to successfully see “take-off” in the future
  • GameHole Con was awesome and I’ll return there, and try and generally increase my convention presence in the future; even so: day job limits the amount of time I can spend at such events.

The Man

  • I gamed less than I wanted to this year
  • I definitely felt singed running two Kickstarters back-to-back with Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment. These were successful, but wow.
  • Some major and positive life-changes in my household (my wife got a great full-time job in her area of expertise) were still very disruptive on my schedule
  • I need to exercise more, and force time for it. Day-job and schedule changes make this harder
  • Keeping track of many social media feeds is draining.
  • I’ve been enjoying the hell out of shield-building and wooden weapon-crafting for my Viking stuff, but there are issues to be resolved with it in terms of where my time is best spent.

Overall, it’s hard to argue:  2018 was a successful year for Gaming Ballistic. I just wish it felt more successful. The miss on the number of folks who would be interested in Lost Hall 2e is particularly painful. I’d pondered hanging up GB entirely in October-November, but then I got the three contracts for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG for 2019, which was uplifting. I hope that these three projects, plus a few more in the pipeline, provide the wind in the sails for 2019.

Dragon Heresy needs some actual play, some good reviews and press, and a bit of word-of-mouth. If it can get it, it can be a bit player overall and still make the difference in my being able to self-fund, rather than crowdfund, projects. I have more ideas from myself and others than I have cash-flow to support, mostly in the “it costs good money to get good art” category. I like going into crowdfunding with nearly everything complete, and that can’t happen just yet in 2019.

That’s the summary. More details below the break.

Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic 2018 Year in Review”

I’m always on the lookout for better options than the usual “please amputate your leg in exchange for shipping internationally.” Gaming Ballistic is thrilled to announce that I found a good source for Hall of Judgment Print-on-Demand.

Over the last month or so, I’ve initiated a POD option for new orders of Hall of Judgment, done by the same printer that did the original copies.

The new books print on 130gsm silk-coated paper instead of 140gsm, so they’re slightly thinner, but otherwise they’re the same quality as the prior books. I believe Lulu prints on 80#/120gsm paper, and premium POD with DriveThru is on 105gsm/70# paper.

But if you got the PDF and wanted a print copy, there’s now a source that originates outside of the USA for these books, which saves big-time on shipping.

Today is the Gaming Ballistic Blog-iversary: 6 years. Six years ago today, I looked at Peter Dell’Orto’s Dungeon Fantastic for the Nth time and thought to myself: “I have something I can contribute here.”

So I started Gaming Ballistic on Blogger.

Since then, thousands of posts and millions of words (at one point, I counted both) later, I’ve started a company and published four or five books on my own, plus Technical Grappling.

In 2019, I’ve got more on the way: a minimum of three core plotlines for two different systems.

I still  haven’t really figured out how to load-level and keep my publishing on the blog leveled with my publishing and writing for books, but that’s a 2019 goal.

Speaking of those, look for the “what worked, what didn’t” navelgazing post sometime after the new year.

Until then: thanks for journeying with me this far!

I just wanted to make it clear, as I got a note that alarmed me about the Kickstarter:

This product is the 2nd Edition of the Lost Hall of Tyr adventure.

It is NOT for 2nd Edition D&D, which I believe I have played either once or twice, ever.

The native system is Dragon Heresy, which is based off of a tweaked version of Fifth Edition, that is: the System Reference Dictionary v5.1, under the Open Gaming License.

As seems to be frequently the case, when I’m in heavy writing mode there’s not much time for much else. The Citadel at Norðvörn needs wordcount!

Writing the Content

I’m trying to write an average of 1,500 words per day, which is non-trivial but I want to get this out there. I’m working from a healthy mind-map of the setting relationships, so it’s really a matter of picking one of the lines or dotted lines and expanding on each bit.

There are no pre-conceived outcomes here. Citadel is about a situation, and every group of PCs, along with the GM, will take this mini-setting and run with it.

The mind-map will be included in the adventure in some form or another, for easy reference. I was able to pretty much improv my way through a Dragon Heresy session with such a map, and with the creatures in the main DH book and those included in the adventure book if needed, plus the extensive guide to key personalities that’s going into the Citadel book, you can probably “just play.” That’s the goal, anyway.

Citadel, though, is the first of three planned Dungeon Fantasy RPG releases in 2019, so I want to get on it fast, so that my Inner Team can playtest it and see what holds up and what needs expansion (or trimming).

Right now I’m at about 8500 words into a document that needs a minimum of about 44,000 (roughly 80 pages) and a maximum of about 71,000 (128 pages). I think 80 pages will be the best based on the last Kickstarter’s performance, as a nice blend of “I can deliver an equally-good product” and “not go broke.” Still, if there’s more content – and there can easily be more content – and the KS does very well, I can add it.

Art and Maps

This one’s going to need some serious art help, though.

At least three city maps, likely four or five: Northwatch (Norðvörn) citadel, the lower city, and the towns of Ainferill (Riverbend) and Vegghofn (Sallyport). Probably a map – really an encounter location – for another village that forms a major nexus of conflict for the area.

Lots of character art. Not every NPC gets drawn up, of course, but some of the main ones need detailing. Lots of opportunity for folks that do character sketches here.

A few full- or half-page scenes of key conflicts. Like this one:

So please forgive me if my blog content is a bit muted, or only happens in fits and starts: I’m head down at the keyboard.

But if you really want to help me get a jump on things, especially the city maps, you might consider supporting the current Kickstarter for a shelf-worth print run of the Dragon Heresy version of Hall of Judgment. Every now and then, I get a short spell of orders for Dragon Heresy; that makes for some serious help in buying art, paying writers, and generally making more new content.

Gaming Ballistic Holiday Sale

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and buy my stuff! The Gaming Ballistic Holiday Sale is on!

Not subtle, but then, a sale really isn’t. All Gaming Ballistic RPG products are on sale on my website at 23% off until Jan 2, 2019.

That should allow you fine folks to either buy stuff for yourself or your friends, or after Christmas, to treat yourself.

I’m not wedded to the 23% number, but for obviously reasons Warehouse 23 is, so there we go!

Oh, and Hall of Judgment is also on sale on Warehouse 23 until December 19.

Furthermore, if you’ve been hankering for a hand-built viking shield, pricing has been updated and a new option added for hide facing and backing. Also: poplar is now the only shieldwood I am using; aspen is too brittle, and I got some actual trees cut down and seasoned that I’m turning into planks over the next few weeks.

 

 

International Availability for Hall of Judgment

Steve Jackson Games just made an amazing announcement. They’re considering a Dungeon Fantasy RPG Bestiary, and hinting that they may also reprint the Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed set. In the highly-active comments section, a commenter noted that they wanted to buy a copy of Hall of Judgment, but shipping to the UK was nearly $25, doubling the cost of the book. International shipping of Hall of Judgment is always problematic from the USA.

Also, SJG obviously doesn’t control that. I do – it’s my book and my product line. Anyway, two key things for international customers:

  • There are still 8 copies of HoJ left in the United Kingdom, which can be shipped to the UK for about $6, the EU for $9, and “rest of world” for about $12; those were the Kickstarter prices and I don’t think Royal Mail has changed their prices lately.
  • Once those are gone, I’ve arranged to have the same printer, CPI, do print-on-demand softcovers for me. The quality of paper will be very nearly as good as the original batch (130gsm/86# paper instead of 140gsm/93#).

This is very exciting. The cost per book is competitive with DriveThruRPG. The paper quality is much better. And dealing with the same printer that did my original version means the handling of files is the same; no “surprise” changes due to tweaks in the export.

So: continuity of availability for Hall of Judgment for “not the USA” customers is assured.

What about the USA?

This is, obviously, easier.

SJGames probably has a few dozen copies at Warehouse 23. I’ve got maybe 60 here at home. After that, things will get more complicated, but I’m looking into options. POD runs into the same issues: finding POD companies with heavy paper stock is trickier than I’d like (willing to take suggestions, though!). Offset print here in the USA runs into minimum order quantities; I’d probably have to Kickstart or offer a new HoJ print run as a stretch goal to one of my upcoming projects (that has real advantages in the world of ‘and the Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed set is reprinting and heading to retail shelves again’).

I’m looking into options, but I’m also in far less danger of running out just yet. Stay tuned.

Gaming Ballistic is a publisher of roleplaying games, and this note lets you know where you can find Gaming Ballistic on the Web.

As a company, I support the 5e-derived Dragon Heresy system, D&D5e through the Open Gaming License (OGL), and OSR products, usually with a focus on Swords & Wizardry, especially since I’m getting to know the guys and gals at Frog God better over time. Zach Glazar, for example, is basically the guy who spent an hour or two of his own time to help me get my bearings in InDesign.

I am also a huge fan of the GURPS-related variants by Steve Jackson Games, and through the product Hall of Judgment, am one of their few license-holders, and to my knowledge so far the only one for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Which is different from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, itself a sub-line of the overarching GURPS portfolio.

All that said: if you can’t find me, you can’t play my games and buy my stuff. Buying my stuff lets me make nicer things for you.

Finding Gaming Ballistic

As seems to be required these days, you can find me all over the place:

Buying Stuff

To date, I have written four books through Gaming Ballistic, and one through Steve Jackson Games. They are Dragon Heresy (DH), Hall of Judgment (HoJ, for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS), Lost Hall of Tyr (LHoT1e; for 5e and S&W), and Dungeon Grappling (DG; for 5e, S&W, and the Pathfinder RPG). I also wrote GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling (TG) and published a bunch of articles in Pyramid Magazine since 2002 for Steve Jackson Games.

Where can you find these fine products?

  • Main Web Store (DH, DG, LHoT, HoJ all formats)
  • DriveThruRPG (DG, LHoT in PDF and POD)
  • Warehouse23 at Steve Jackson Games (DG in PDF; HoJ; this is the only place to buy Technical Grappling!)
  • Studio2 (Dragon Heresy in Hardcover only; these guys are distributors; DH releases there in December)

The main web store is best for me, because I get a larger cut, and that means more wherewithal to make more games.

I absolutely support direct-to-retailer purchases, with a usual discount of 50%. If you are a buyer for a retail store, you’ll need to contact me (see below!) and I’ll get your store email address entered into my Coupon Code section, and I’ll get you a coupon that will let you get a 50% discount on orders direct from me; larger orders will get free shipping.

What’s this about “LHoT1e” you might ask? I am currently revising and refining Lost Hall of Tyr to directly support the Dragon Heresy game. That means pulling in all the worldbuilding stuff I did for Hall of Judgment (which is essentially LHoT pushed up to 128 pages from 64 and then opened up as a more sandboxy campaign rather than what LHoT was designed as: a convention one-shot), and making the challenges mostly suitable for a starting party of level 1-5 adventurers . . . but don’t count on all encounters being “balanced.” Some need to be avoided or you’ll get flattened.

In any case, look for a second edition. If you already own Lost Hall 1e in PDF form, you will get the Second Edition free of charge. Comp copies will be delivered by DriveThru to those who purchased there, and by the Gaming Ballistic website for all Kickstarter backers or direct-purchase customers who have an account on my website (and if you don’t have one but do want one, email me).

Contact Gaming Ballistic

I am easily accessible via email, Discord, and the Facebook Group.

In addition, I am a frequent contributor to the RPG Breakfast Club over at the Tenkar’s Tavern discord.

I tend to answer most questions on a “right the heck now” basis. Sometimes it might take longer.

I’m also increasing my convention presence over the next few years. I was at GameHole Con in Madison in Nov 2018, and will try and make appearances at Con of the North, Convergence (both in Minneapolis), GameHole 2019, and GaryCon 2020 if I possibly can do so!

You can also sign up for the Gaming Ballistic mailing list. I try not to use it much, to prevent spam-induced unsubscription, but I try and announce upcoming Kickstarters and projects there first. And if none of that suits, here’s a contact form:

And we’re done!

At least I hope so!

This morning I dropped off about 40 books into the mail, which means that all but one order – and that one is an international order – is complete. I’ll take care of that one with TheDiceLatte in Korea over the next day or so.

Including today, this means that the usual 10 days of media mail will bring us to Halloween. October 31 . . . meaning that I can chalk Dragon Heresy as my fourth “on time or early” Kickstarter, preserving my 100% hit rate.

Thanks to everyone for supporting this project.

A Request

I’ve been getting some nice emails or quick Tweets about the book, which of course, I appreciate greatly. Even better would be a fast review on a social media site or forum, even better attached to a play report. It’s a non-trivial ask, I grant, but the more folks curious about Dragon Heresy and who buy books, the more support I can give to the line! (More on that later.)

Favorite Local Heretical Gaming Store

As a result of breaking through to the last stretch goal, I’m in possession of about 1,300 copies of Dragon Heresy that I’d obviously love to move out and get into folks’ hands. So bring your own copy by your Favorite Local Gaming Store, and they can either order from me directly or the books will be available via Studio 2 come December. I think the books will have great shelf presence, and if your game store owner contacts me, we can work out an appropriate retail discount if you want to order from be before then.

What next?

Well, the very first thing will be to provide a bit of adventure support. Originally, Lost Hall of Tyr was a convention module I ran for 5e at GENCON 50, and then published it as a 64-page supplement.

I approached Steve Jackson Games about converting it to The Dungeon Fantasy RPG (Powered by GURPSand to my surprise and pleasure, they said yes, and we announced Hall of Judgment for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG in April. In doing the conversion, I also expanded it to be more of a micro-setting rather than a linear convention romp. It grew to 128 pages, with more detail around the city, three additional dungeons/locations, and tweaked-out new rules.

Well, I’m going to be converting the larger version of Hall of Judgment back into Lost Hall of Tyr, 2nd Edition (for Dragon Heresy). I’ve already got a preliminary layout, and the new edition will support play at Level 1-5 for Dragon Heresy. Any who already have the PDF will get a free upgrade; I can’t upgrade the print copies, as I’m sure you understand.

I’ve also been asked about mid-tier play. Well, there’s good news and a challenge there. The good news is that I’ve got another two races (elves and gnomes), several classes that didn’t make it into the Introductory Set (Ranger, Paladin, Warlock, Monk, Sorcerer), 16 more backgrounds, and of course the spells lists that go along with them. Those need to be edited and laid out, but they already exist.

The challenge is art. I’ve used and re-used quite a bit of the original art I’d had commissioned for my first four products, and I’ve had quite enough of that. So there will need to be new art to go into this expansion. I’d also like the product to sit next to the Introductory Set on retail shelves, which means an offset print run!

Those would require money. I’ll rough out what it would need, and see if we can fit a crowdfunding campaign into what is shaping up to be a very exciting and busy 2019.

Fit in? Yeah. I’m not ready to announce yet, but expect even more support for the world of Dragon Heresy in 2019, and not just written by my hand. I can’t wait for the announcement, but a few things are pending that need to happen first.

So stay tuned . . . and I hope that I can continue to make things happen over the next 14 – 18 months for you.

Thanks again!