So, my first ever convention as a dealer has come and gone: CONVergence 2019. I’m going to rapid-fire my impressions. I’ll upload pictures later.

Logistics, Set-up, Take-Down

So, I’m local, which is one of the reasons I picked this one. But even with that, I have to say: for a new venue, these guys had stuff down cold. It helps that my setup needs were light.

Even so, I showed up with my inventory and booth gear, with hand-truck in the car. Didn’t need it. Pull up to the garage, a staff of folks with pallet jacks show up and whisk your stuff to your booth, you depart and park.

I was the first in line to take-down, too. And when I walked up at exactly 4:01pm and said “I’m ready,” so were they. I was in my car on my way home by 4:15pm. So while more elaborate booths (like the poor folks who brought in a virtual mountain of etched-glass mugs) I’m sure took longer, folks with a limited presence like myself was nearly frictionless. 10/10, can recommend, etc.

Setup for me was, as noted, easy. I was fairly well prepared given I had only six products for sale.

Sales and Performance

Booth fees were $265, and of course I spent some money getting durable set-up stuff, like inventory stands and a banner.

I was, I believe, one of the only, if not the only, vendors of pure RPG material there. If you wanted gaming stuff, you pretty much chatted with me.

Mostly, folks walked on by. It’s a Sci-Fi convention, not a RPG one. Total sales were $380 . . . so I probably broke even.

I did, however, give out a LOT of business cards, and made a very important contact at The Source. After the Con, I drove there and I do expect that we’ll start having them stock my stuff. The numbers I was told in terms of “sure, we’ll take X of each” would more than double my sales even at the retail discount. Others might buy shields, though I doubt it – they’re expensive – and still more will browse my store and maybe pick up a PDF or two.

So: financially, break-even to win. Not “wow, I need to do this every month” win. But “did not lose money” win.

Note: this would not be true with an out-of-town convention. Had the same volume been had at GameHole Con or some other place, it would have been a loss. That being said, a dedicated RPG con would have had fewer people just walk by.

Biggest seller, in terms of quantity and funds, for the con? Much to my surprised pleasure, Dragon Heresy hardbacks. I also moved one copy of Lost Hall of Tyr 2nd edition, and a pair of Dungeon Grappling.

Product Mix

As noted, Dragon Heresy is a pretty book with a compelling pitch to those that are open to it. More old-school deadliness, less-silly reliance on hit point ablation, and chock full of viking goodness. I don’t need a high penetration of folks that want just a bit of a different 5e experience to do very well with that product.

I also had the Dungeon Fantasy RPG on display, but not for sale. Mostly so I could point to Nordvorn and Hall of Judgment and Fantastic Dungeon Grappling and say “THESE go with THIS.”

Had I had boxes to sell, though, or TFT to sell . . . I’m betting I could have sold a few. “I don’t have anything to play it with” turns in to “Play it with this!”

Hits and Misses

I could probably have sold a lot of memberships to Asfolk while I was there, had I had cards. I did break even, or make money, so that’s a win. Getting there, setting up, running the booth, and teardown were easy and were not an obstacle to fun.

I spent a lot of time on Saturday painting my most-authentic viking shield with milk-based white paint. This drew much interest and good conversation was had. Doing it dressed in authentic mail lent a degree of cosplay and “I’m one of you” authenticity to the thing that was well received, and a few folks even took pictures. Were I to go whole-hog and up my Viking game, it would be well received.

What could be improved for next time?

  • This is a heavy sci-fi and pop culture show. Had I had physical product to move – even not my own – I’d have done much better.
  • Next year, I know exactly what do to with some physical product, and I think I can make it happen fairly easily. Not tellin’, though.
  • I brought way too much inventory. Next time, I’ll limit my supply to make it even easier to come and go. If it looks like I’m going to run out of something, I’ll bring more from home. Or even the car. But Even ten of each of six products, which would likely fit in just a few boxes, would work
  • More stuff. Next year I’ll have at least the five new TFT products, and maybe two more DFRPG ones. More Dragon Heresy support would be good, and I had a request for what will make a nice short supplement that can probably be cross-ported into other games as well.
  • Staff. There was me and my kids, who were mostly bored, but well-behaved. With at least one more adult, I could have walked the floor and seen a few panels or other participatory things. As it was, my feet were nailed to the floor in the booth for four days straight.
  • Demos and games. This ties in with “staff,” but there IS an RPG conclave of games at CONVergence, and having folks running my stuff for me while I work the booth would be a huge improvement. I’m sure if SJG showed up with MiBs, and I had TFT and Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed sets to sell, plus my own material, there would be a wonderful synergy there.

Overall, the convention was fun. They usually are. I talked games with a lot of folks, painted my shield, sold some stuff, and handed out a lot of cards. I might try Con of the North or another dedicated RPG convention instead of, or in addition to, CONVergence to see if my theories are correct.

Cosplay and Visual Appeal

Lots of good costume play here, though I didn’t see many full-dress folks from the Manticorian (Manticoran?) Navy – from the Honor Harrington series – there this year like I did last year. Still, some great costumes on display.

 

Intro: May the FNORD Be With Us

Over Apr 6-7, I went down to FNORDCon, Steve Jackson Games’ first gaming convention that they planned and ran themselves. Originally, there wasn’t going to be any GURPS/DFRPG content at all – maybe not even any roleplaying – but I and one of my authors, also a MiB, volunteered to fix that right up. He was going to run two sessions of his upcoming The Dragons of Rosgarth, while I’d do one session each of Hall of Judgment and one of the almost-ready Citadel at Nordvorn.

Both sessions of mine were really, really full. I have a bit of a policy that if you come to one of my games, you play in one of my games. Especially with so few opportunities for RPGing while there. So both games had 12-13 folks in them.

I’ll be reaching out to my other players tonight, and we’ll see if anyone else has thoughts.

If you like what you read below . . . preorders for Citadel at Nordvorn are open!

Session Report by Carl Patten

My background going in: Backed Dungeon Fantasy Monsters II and backed the Citadel of Nordvorn based on recommendation from there. I am very familiar, if rusty, with GURPS, and own Dungeon Fantasy but hadn’t played it in a group yet. My wife has played several D&D campaigns but has only played GURPS once.

First of all, congratulations on running a session with 12 people that actually got stuff done! It’s really easy to get bogged down in details in DF and GURPS, and my wife appreciated the “GURPS super light” approach you took. You also were able to consistently answer our basic rule questions off the top of your head, which kept the pacing fast. Similarly, starting with “you’re all together on a boat, which is being attacked by another boat” successfully got us into the action right away without needing to reach a consensus first. The discussion afterward about what to do with our brand-new boat was hilarious!

Next, the setting rocked! We were the two Minnesotan expats in the room, and even though we may not have actually encountered the Minnesota/Iron Range references during this session, knowing they were in there got us pumped! The time you spent storytelling, describing the setting and why people acted as they did, was just as entertaining as the time we spent as characters in-game. This also paid off in the story hooks; hearing the story of the lady whose father shamed her suitor in public legitimately pissed us off! I’m going to have to run this setting just to find out what the hell is happening there!

We very much enjoyed the pre-made characters, my wife the “mace to the face” cat folk and me the halfling scout. I was worried that as two odd-ball characters we might miss out on some of the Norseness, but no, we were fully included! The descriptions and design notes were fun to read and helped us both jump into these characters immediately.

Minor character highlight was the great big lady wrestler who showed off what the Fantastic Dungeon Grappling can do. Sold me on checking it out, that’s for sure.

The Warding Temple quest to defend the village against 12 hobbs and 3 trolls was a mixed success. It succeeded in reuniting the party after we went a few different ways in Nordvorn, and ending on a big fight was a satisfying wrap-up so I’m glad we went there, but I got confused on where our party started in relation to the fey (ironic since I was the scout!), and that made it tough to sort out what to do other than just “shoot” or “run up and hit/bodyslam them”. Maybe a simple “who’s charging in and who’s staying back” table on the giant notepad would have helped? Fortunately the spellcaster next to me concussed the snot out of half the bad guys (and a few of us too) which helped us win the fight and end on time.

One last highlight: we arrived at the dock of Nordvorn with that brand new ship and the official asked us where we got it. We were standing around hum-hawing because, although per custom we’d claimed it fair and square, we weren’t sure exactly how to explain it. Suddenly you as our NPC boat captain whom we’d saved jumped in with “LET ME TELL YOU THE STORY!” It was an awesome moment of GMing and got us through that awkward pause while making us feel like righteous Norse heroes.

In conclusion, this was a tremendously exciting setting and session. Thanks for running it!

Citadel At Nordvorn: Final Tally

When all was said and done, when the campaign ended on March 24, we’d done very, very well. 200% funding, a new-record 600 backers, and also a new-record (for me) $26,000.

Officially my best campaign ever.
We hit the goals for 128 pages, and a high-quality offset print run with a sewn, lay-flat binding. So it’s going to be

Miss the Campaign?

Pre-orders are Open

If you missed the campaign, or chose to wait until it was certain to fund, it’s not too late to jump in.

After some mis-steps with shipping, we got it figured out. I’m doing a print run of CitadelHall of Judgment, and the new Fantastic Dungeon Grappling in Latvia.

That means for international backers, shipping will come out of the UK, at a greatly-reduced price relative to out-of-the-USA shipping. So if you held off physical product because of usually-egregious shipping fees, you might want to check things out.

The book is looking to be very pretty. The interior art is coming in, with five or six finished pieces and a whole lot more underway: 42 commissioned pieces of art for the book, plus some stock art from the always-amazing Dean Spencer where it made sense.

The text of the book – with one exception – has been written and edited and inserted into the layout. There is one page of text I need to finish up – that’s on tap for today, actually – then to build the relationship map of characters and motivations that will help GMs navigate likely responses to events. I’ll be testing that out at FNORDCon.

FNORDCon?

Yep! I’ll be headed down to Austin, TX this weekend to run Hall of Judgmentand Citadel one time each. My author Kyle Norton will be running the never-before-seen scenario The Dragons of Rosgarth as a playtest. That is the next adventure in the Nordlond series. If you’re there, try and check it out. He’s running it twice.

What’s next?

As Citadel finishes up, with hardly a breath Gaming Ballistic will turn from the Dungeon Fantasy RPG to The Fantasy Trip. The Kickstarter for the first four of a planned 10-or-more set of adventures for TFT will be launching in May.

In fact, pretty much the week after I send out the preliminary PDF to Backers, I’ll be generating the KS campaign sheet for TFT. The adventures themselves are already written! Four adventures, two each by David Pulver and the team of Christopher Rice and J. Edward Tremlett (both published TFT authors), which will release as four separately-packaged 16-page short scenarios.

Each will feature a color cover, black-and-white interior to better fit with the overall aesthetic of the TFT game line, and as much pretty art as I can cram in there. The TFT fans have let it be known that hex counters for all monsters had better appear either in the game or as an add-on, so I’ll make sure that happens.

That should Kickstart in late April or early May (in all honesty, probably early May), and run through May. Art an assembly should go quickly since the words are already done, so I’m hoping to have PDFs to backers by mid to late June. Printing will be rather later, depending on volume. I’ve got great ideas on how to bring this to fruition efficiently.

Is that All?

Actually, no. Following TFT, The Dragons of Rosgarth will get its day, another adventure for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Then Forest’s End, the third planned Dungeon Fantasy RPG adventure for 2019.

And after that, four more TFT scenarios!

Surely that’s all?

Nope. There are a few other things in the works that I’m not ready to talk about yet, but one of them I am. I’ve partnered with James Spahn, author of White Star, for a short Swords & Wizardry scenario set in a fantasy-Viking culture. It will be 16-pages long, full color, and should convert nicely to Dragon Heresyand the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Look for that at the end of the year!

It’s shaping up to be an amazing, exhausting, thrilling year for Gaming Ballistic. I hope you all join me for the ride.

I’m headed out to FNORDCon today, back Sunday night. So I’ll be a bit thin on the ground here . . . but if you’re there, well, if there’s Dungeon Fantasy to be played, you’ll be playing it with either me or Kyle Norton. And two of those games are playtest sessions for the Dragons of Rosgarth . . . the next Norðlond adventure!

We hope to see you there!

DUNGEON FANTASY

We’re excited to have Douglas Cole and Kyle Norton from Gaming Ballistic to run Dungeon Fantasy scenarios all weekend! Here’s a short description of the scenarios being run:

Hall of Judgment: Journey from the Norðlond town of Isfjall to the ruins of Logiheimli, seeking the location of the lost Hall of Judgment. Battle undead, speak with lost heroes, and if you’re lucky, find the Hall itself. Available in limited quantities at the show! (Douglas, 10 a.m. Sat.)

Citadel at Nordvorn: The dwarf-wrought Citadel at Nordvorn anchors Audreyn’s Wall against threats from the faerie-plagued Hunted Lands, as well as the Dragon grounds. For centuries it has stood firm against external threats . . . but it currently faces disaster from within. Can the PCs unravel the mysteries brewing at Nordvorn? (Douglas, 10 a.m. Sun.)

The Dragons of Rosgarth: A new dragon has taken up residence in the Ruins of Rosgarth and gathered an army around him.  The army must be dispersed before they attack Nordlond! The game begins following a stealthy journey to within sight of the dragon’s fortress at the Ruins. What happens after that is up to you. Seize the opportunity to play The Dragons of Rosgarth *before* it’s even released! (Kyle, 3 p.m. Sat. and 2 p.m. Sun.)

Gaming Ballistic was selected for a dealer table at CONVergence 2019, which starts July 4 and runs through July 7.

This will be my very first “hey, my own table!” convention appearance, so I’m glad it’s here in the Twin Cities.

Come chat, check stuff out, or hit me up and hopefully folks can run some of my games (I’ll likely be at the table for most of it). Gaming Ballistic is looking to have a very interesting 2019, for reasons that will become more clear next week, I hope.

Until then: see you at the Con!

GameHole Con 2018 – Con Report

Well, I survived! This was the first convention that I’d attended since my journey to GenCon 2017, as part of my first foray as being part of the con as Gaming Ballistic, LLC. I was, more importantly it turned out, also there as part of my Kickstarter rewards for backing the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS) at the “play the game with Kromm” level.

That’s important for this journey to Madison, Wisconsin for two reasons.
1. I played through what would turn into the linear adventure Lost Hall of Tyr (for D&D5e) there for the first two times
2. I got to know the Dungeon Fantasy RPG for the first time

My mission for this Convention, then? To demonstrate and run Hall of Judgment, the first licensed adventure or supplement of any kind for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. To talk with the SJG folks (Phil and Steve were both there) about further ideas for supporting GURPS. To get to meet in person folks like Matt Finch, Erik Tenkar, Jason Hobbs, and many others whom I’ve interacted with – and who have helped me so much – in getting my games off the launch pad. I simply could not have done what I did on Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment without an absolutely crucial hour or so with Zach Glazar, who pumped an incredible amount of InDesign Starter information into my head.

I also was hoping to sell a few copies of my product, which was a secondary goal but a real one.

Let’s recap. Continue reading “GameHole Con 2018 Trip Report!”

It is now less than two weeks to Hall of Judgment at GameHole Con.

AAAAHHHHH!!!!!

I mean, it should be easy. I’ve got Hall of Judgment. I’ve got maps. I’ve got pre-gens. And my Saturday even, from 8pm to Midnight, is filled up!

Friday, though: Friday never changes. Wait, no. Wrong movie.

There are still seats open for the Friday game of Hall of Judgment, which will be held in the DorkStock mini-con area. Not only will John Kovalic be there, but Steve Jackson and I believe Phil Reed will be in residence.

Plus, you can meet me, if that’s of interest. I don’t really have a firm schedule other than the two games I’m running. I deliberately did this so I can wander the con, chat with folks, and play any RPGs that strike my fancy, assuming seats are open.

In any case if you’re going to be at GameHole, and are looking for something to do on a Friday:

Hall of Judgment (4 hrs)

  • Fri 4 PM
  • Role Playing Game | GURPS | Mendota1 – 7 Some Gaming Experience | Teens and Up (13+) | $4.00
  • Presented By : Dorkstock featuring Douglas Cole

I hope to see you there!