This is just a preview of the project summary, but things are shaping up well.
I hope to launch in just shy of two weeks, and the project should run through mid-June.
This is just a preview of the project summary, but things are shaping up well.
I hope to launch in just shy of two weeks, and the project should run through mid-June.
While we’re all sitting at home, Gaming Ballistic has not been idle. Lots going on in the background, some of which I can talk about, some I can’ or it’s not yet time.
In the immediate future, I’ve got three things on my horizon, though some of them may break into smaller bits.
The first thing up, and sooner rather than later, is the next installment of projects for The Fantasy Trip from Gaming Ballistic. It features more works by the same author group as last time, and features five more books.
Two are solos by David Pulver. I should be getting the first draft of one of them Any Day Now, and he’ll turn to the other immediately thereafter.
Three are the continuation and conclusion of the Jok Sevantes adventures by Christopher R. Rice and J. Edward Tremlett. I have read and reviewed all three of their submissions. One is in editing with me, the other two went back for revision to the authors with extensive feedback. That is a very normal part of the writing process, and I definitely think that if we can pull off the shared vision of agency, action, and freedom of choice that the revised books promise, they’ll be really fun to play.
One thing I’m going to do a little differently for this project is to have the “books” part of the project run differently than the “stuff” part. So counters and cards that appeared in the Four Perilous Journeys project are still on the docket, but staggered so that the “books” and “stuff” supply chains don’t cross. I think, overall, this will make the projects go more smoothly.
I also have a thought in mind for that “stuff” project, and I’ll bring that up later.
With the bestiary, called the Norðlondr Ovinabokin (Nordlond Enemies Book), I hope to provide a resource for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG that allows folks running games set in Norðlond to just play. Coming up with good adversaries can be very time consuming, and being able to just pick from a list is really handy. That Other Game has had the Monster Manual since I was eight years old – it was published in 1977 – and having that for inspiration and reference was quite handy.
Most readers of the blog know that originally, “The Book of Foes” was written for my stand-alone RPG Dragon Heresy, and has incorporated many of the creatures found in the SRD, eliminated others, and plussed up the sections on regular flora and fauna. Perhaps a third, maybe fewer, of the monsters appeared in the bestiary section of the Dragon Heresy book. But every word of fluff text was new, or modified, to fit the setting.
So there’s a LOT done already, and the biggest job is monster stats. As envisioned, this will be a mighty tome. Lots of critters, lots of stats, lots of art. It’s going to be a big lift and I hope that folks help me by backing the project heavily!
If you were at virtual FnordCon 2 and attended the GURPS panel discussion, you may have heard the wonderful news (for me, anyway!) that SJG has agreed to allow me to create a stand-alone RPG using the GURPS core. It is technically a “Powered by GURPS” product much like the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.
Tentatively titled “Mission X,” though it may change by the time it launches, it will be a modern-day action-oriented game featuring a party of trained operatives heading off into the great beyond to obtain technology and intelligence from a hostile universe. If you read my writeups and notes from my Alien Menace campaign (short-lived due to the arrival of my second daughter), you can see that it grabbed concepts and missions from diverse sources, but featured modern weapons, gear, and tactics plus a “kill aliens and take their stuff” theme to help it feel like “the Dungeon Fantasy RPG in space.”
Mission X is going to be more than that, though. I’m envisioning a setup that allows a GM to run modern day Special Ops or SWAT missions, super-spies, and other genres that involve guns. Lots of guns.
My vision for the series is evolving, but I want a faster “on-ramp” for new players, but I also want folks to look and see my imprint on the game, as I finally get some real ballistics in the Gaming Ballistic product portfolio!
Stay tuned. I have to get through quite a bit before I really turn my mind to this, and until I have my own outline for what needs doing, announcing titles or contents of books is premature. Even so: there are several worked-example books already to give the overall ‘what does this need to look like?’ feel. The Dungeon Fantasy RPG obviously; the Dungeon Fantasy GURPS series, Action (the gift that keeps on giving; read my reviews here), Monster Hunters, and After the End all provide a structure that I would be remiss to ignore.
But there are also things I’ve written for Pyramid that are very on point, and other things written by Sean that are even more so. My mandate to borrow is pretty wide, but not all-inclusive. I can’t hardly wait to get started on it, but first things’ first.
There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, too. While the three items above represent the BIG projects already announced, there are others in the works.
I intend in late 2020 to explore other crowdfunding options more tailored to the RPG space. Some of the post-mortem from 2019 showed that while Gaming Ballistic is capable of producing many volume projects at once (Four/Five Perilous Journeys and Nordlond Sagas), tying them all together in a bundle is complicated and doesn’t allow the kind of delivery flexibility that my backers deserve.
So I’m going to look at Game On Tabletop for at least one project, as the platform combines the crowdfunding capabilities of a Kickstarter with an integrated pledge manager and add-on capability, as well as phased approaches to handling shipping. I want to start small, so I get a feel for the platform on my end, as well as ensuring that the slide over to a new spot that’s not Kickstarter or IndieGoGo doesn’t put too much at risk.
I thought I’d try something new: an “unboxing” video for the new adventure books. Overall, I’m quite pleased with how they turned out!
That means I now have all four of the Nordlond Sagas physical products in hand. They should be arriving in the UK for shipping Real Soon Now, but overseas transport probably means another 4-6 weeks for the US.
Now there are seven Dungeon Fantasy RPG products by Gaming Ballistic . . . with still more planned.
I joined Che Webster this morning on his Roleplay Rescue podcast.
He’s in the UK, so the best time for us both was 6am for me, noon for him. It is, after all, a work day.
This means there were a few times I lost the thread; too much blood in my caffeine stream. But by and large, we had a great chat.
The conversation was pretty wide-ranging, and there were some really fun moments; Che’s a good interviewer and the topic was interesting to both of us.
Look for it in about a month.
It has been a regrettably long time since I’ve posted here. But some personal and GB-professional things finally went to the to-done pile, from what seemed like a perpetual to-do. I hope this bodes well for my sanity, and the blog, going forward.
So, what’s up?
The real news for the publshing track is of course #2, but the mental, financial, and time-related drains on my energy from #1 were huge.
So hopefully in about a week the final PDFs for Nordlond Sagas go out. Then I take a short break for myself, and start digging into the next TFT project. Three of five manuscripts are already in, and the three together represent 48 laid-out pages . . . contrasted to The Dragons of Rosgarth, which came in at 112.
So this is a much more tightly-bound project set coming up, and I will have the mental and financial wherewithal to have a LOT more of it completely done by the time the crowdfunding campaign launches.
I should also have more bandwidth for, you know, actual gaming. I have some personal friends and family for whom I want to run some games, and an online game I want to join . . . which happens to be set in Nordlond. My setting. So woot to that.
More gaming means more writing about games, too. So that’s to the good. Needs to liven up in here.
I’m starting to get reports that the books are arriving in the USA. Excellent; that sounds about right. Some Media Mail is super fast, others can take up to 10 business days. So stay alert.
Also, make sure you get what you paid for; with a big delivery, fulfillment errors can take place. This includes everything from “oops, you’re missing X” to “the USPS crushed my books into something unrecognizable.”
I’ve got LOTS of spare copies of books. If your card decks or counter sheets are damaged . . . that’s going to be more of an issue. But let’s hope that the really high price I pay for each box (I mean, really?) means they’re quality stuff and protect the goods well. That being said, I’ve sent out two replacement sets of adventures to our “not the USA” friends due to mis-handling, and I’ve got lots and lots of copies in the USA that can be used for that purpose…so if your stuff is broke, email me directly with a photo of the damage and we’ll sort it out.
As always: the thing that creators probably get the least of is post-campaign feedback. “I liked it,” or even better, “I played it” and “here’s what I liked and what I didn’t” is super-valuable. Especially since I’m going to be turning my efforts to “More Perilous Journeys” in 2020.
Yep. That’s going to be the new title of the Kickstarter. I may try and take a page from the Car Wars concept and rack up as many pre-orders as possible…but I’m going to be trying a few different things in 2020 with my crowdfunding direction, so we’ll have to see. Kickstarter is popular but a bit confusing; Backerkit is nice, but really labor intensive. Both lack tools that I’d like to see and make things harder than they should. I may try something else, but I want to test it first with a smaller project.
First: let’s take care of “when.” I expect/hope to have all five manuscripts in my hands by Feb 14, 2020. Three are already done, though not edited or laid out. The TFT layout is very clean, so I don’t anticipate any issues there. I’m going to do my best to have all of the text layout ready to go on these by the time crowdfunding launches; I also need a bit of a break after the Nordlond Sagas campaign due to behind-the-scenes stuff. So figure late Feb/early March for a launch date on these.
You’ll be seeing three more adventures that are sequels to Crown of Eternity and Curse of the Pirate King; these are GM’d adventures written by the same team of Christopher R. Rice and J. Edward Tremlett.
You’ll also be getting two 32-page solos from David Pulver; he’s writing those now. They will be very, very different than Vampire Hunter Belladonna in subject matter.
I’ll see if folks want more counters and card decks. As before, these will only be offered as one-time specials for the Kickstarter, but I will certainly have the older counter sheets and card decks from “Four/Five Perilous Journeys” as an add-on, a dedicated print run for those.
That’s what I’ve got on tap for you for TFT in 2020 thus far. I’ve got other things in mind that year, of course. One is a giant Dungeon Fantasy RPG book, the Norðlondr Ovinabokin, the “Nordlond Enemies Book,” which is planned as a huge bestiary, in hardcover, full color. We’ll see if “A full-length monster manual for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG” has the legs folks say it will! Also, maybe-possibly a brand new RPG from a name you know well (not mine) that is neither TFT nor GURPSy, but I’m very excited about. That one would come late in the year.
So “smaller” number of major releases; each one will be “bigger” though, in terms of how much content will come with the project. I’ve also got a number of projects in mind that will pop up when they’re ready to go, and if my alternate vector for crowdfunding works out, can pop up at any time. I’m already working a really neat DFRPG concept for a 16 or 32-page book with the author of Nordlondr Folk and Hand of Asgard…and more besides. Anything like this will show up as shorter works, though.
A comment in the TFT Discord channel boiled down to “I’d really like a set of cards for the Nordlond monsters.”
I’ll tell you what I told him: after the Nordlondr Ovinabokin is done, I’ll have prose and art for likely over 200 creatures. Turning those into the much-simpler TFT critters should be straight-forward.
So consider it under consideration. Obviously something like this requires permission and discussion with SJG . . . but if they say yes, I’ll see what I can do to slot something like it in for 2020.
I thought I’d share an art preview. If you like it, you can pre-order the book on Backerkit!
So, that’s the art for the book. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. If so…maybe you want to pick it up?
I’ll start with the obvious: content has been thin on the ground here for a while in terms of stuff that’s not just updates to my production process/crowdfunding efforts. This one won’t be much different, but it’s a bit of a download on what’s going on.
First thing, the last few months – maybe since April – have been very hectic. My family decided to move. Not far, still in MN, but we started the process. Found a house we liked. Bought it. And moved.
But we still hadn’t sold the old place yet. We’d put a lot of work into it, so we figured it would sell quickly. That didn’t happen. In fact, it still hasn’t happened. So things have been tight around here, and there’s been a lot of time and angst spent on the process. This past week, a buyer’s financing fell through, and so what we thought was a done deal was not. Exhausting, mentally.
The disassembly of my workshop also meant I stopped crafting for a while. That meant shields and promised goods for the Citadel at Nordvorn kickstarter were on the “to-do” list until my shop got set up again.
I also re-started training in Hwa Rang Do, so to spend more time with my wife, who’s an instructor. So my schedule changed quite a bit; again with less time.
This isn’t going to end with “so bad things for Gaming Ballistic, boo hoo.” It just has taken a bit to recover.
All the shields and swords are now done. My workshop is set up. Nordvorn is completely delivered, the physical copies from Four Perilous Journeys are due to arrive at Studio 2 before mid-November. And the Nordlond Sagas campaign . . . well, we’ll get to that in a moment.
The first thing GB was known for, other than all the gun stuff and occasional forays into grappling rules, was GURPSDay. Before I got heavily into publishing, that was every week, like clockwork.
Now, with my schedule on Thursday being “get kids up for school early, and then get back from martial arts late,” it’s become irregular. I mostly get one out weekly, but not always. The 100 blogs (or so) that are part of the list are a bit more irregular too, and readership seems to have fallen off a bit. The giant spike in stats that I used to get isn’t nearly as impressive as it was.
I’ll still do it, but it needs a shot in the arm somehow.
Not any campaign in particular, but in general. Phil Reed has been (correctly) lamenting the state of the gaming industry for some time now. Too many projects, with too short a shelf life in folks’ minds. The usual timetable for how Kickstarter was “supposed” to work was
So that’s two full months of administrative time just getting the orders, sweating marketing, and hoping that folks will be using the power of social media networking to talk up your stuff. That doesn’t usually happen for the big guys, much less me.
Even if you’re completely on the ball and the entire project is done when Backerkit closes, the best you can usually do is send the PDFs out that day. You still have these steps to take, if you intend to go to print, which I like to do.
That’s another 14 weeks – three full months – before all stuff is in hand. Once the books go to print, though, the “I have so much stuff to do on Project X” period is really over. Starting a new project is not crazy at this point, but you will be paying lots of money for print, ship, and fulfillment during this period. So while the workload is lower, the financial drain is maximum. The biggest individual checks one writes are for printing and shipping. The total project cost is higher for art, but that’s almost always spent on many artists.
Best case, you can do a project every 2.5 months; worst case if you wait for everyone to get their stuff before you start the next one? Two projects a year.
I can’t really turn Gaming Ballistic into a self-sustaining main job at two projects a year. Even five per year isn’t awesome unless each of those gets roughly 2.5-5x as large as they are now. Doing MORE requires something else. I can parallel process more books at once than Kickstarter will allow me to do, since my project management skills are up to the task.
What to do? Well, I’ve got two options here.
One is to explore alternate options. GameOnTabletop is intriguing. One thing is that all the add-ons and whatnot are available right away, in addition to pledging. You know exactly what folks are getting, they’re just set up as items. So the “add a new thing in the middle” that happened with both Four Perilous Journeys and Nordlond Sagas is much easier to handle. I’m getting a better feel for shipping, too. I mean, it still sucks, and costs too much, but I can probably guess what it’ll be in advance of the projects these days, since I now can calculate the weight of books easily due to experience in actually getting them. So it’s a bit of a one-stop shop for that. Cards are charged right away, too, and the fees are lower. Cash flow should be superior to Kickstarter, and you need money to pay writers and artists right away when the work has already begun.
The other possibility is to bring it all in house. There’s a crowdfunding app on WooCommerce. No rules but the ones I make for myself. If I have an idea, I can put it on there and say “pre-order it, and it gets made if we hit the goal.” This provides a powerful market tool, in that if I’ve got several books I want to make, the backers will vote with their dollars on which ones they like, and which ones they don’t. It means I can have rolling funding drives, too. It’s sort of the bastard child of Kickstarter and Patreon. All the IT burden falls on me, but there are real advantages to this method. I may try it out with a single small project to work the bugs out.
Even so, the actual process of crowdfunding is a bit of a slog, since you’re bound to the rules of the other systems you use (KS, Backerkit, GameOnTabletop), and they take their cut. It may only be 5%, but that’s 5% that doesn’t go into developing new cool stuff. A few thousand bucks goes a long way at my scale.
Still working away at this. The block-and-tackle of Kickstarter and Backerkit should be done. The two small books – Nordlondr Folk and Hand of Asgard – are looking really good. Layout is finished, art is underway. Now it’s time to turn the effort to full-on editing the adventures, which is a big job. Writing tight, technical, entertaining prose takes work, and so the authors and I are in constant contact helping that out.
I’ve got about five weeks to edit and lay out the two adventures. That will get them in a state to have art done, I hope, by the end of December. I’ll admit it . . . that’s starting to look optimistic. Even so . . . time to get to it.
The current project will run through the end of the year at least, and I suspect that I will slow down a bit on the back-to-back sprints that has been this year. Even so, there’s at least two major things happening next year, and maybe more than two.
The first up in 2020 will be the sequel to 2019s very successful effort. The logistics pathways and needs for counter sheets, card decks, and of course the adventures themselves are now well known. Shipping and production time scales and costs are known. I anticipate a much better planned effort this time. Hopefully with content that folks want. I hope that with a few more hoped-for solos, and lots more time to plan and execute the cards and counters, that this will be even more successful than the last one.
This is the big dog of the coming year. I wrote a huge amount of text for the Dragon Heresy RPG back in 2015 and 2016, taking most of the SRD and writing fluff text and stats accordingly for the Norse-inspired world. Well, those efforts have turned to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG…and the words are still there. This is going to be the bestiary folks in the GURPS sphere have been waiting for. A giant book of monsters, thematically unified by the Nordlond setting . . . but any GM worth their salt can port the critters to their own needs. It’s going to take a lot of work to do right, but I’ve got a great team.
Speaking of Dragon Heresy, I do have plans next year of taking some of the existing work – Lost Hall, Nordvorn, Rosgarth, and Forest’s End and pulling them apart to turn them into two different books. One with lots of setting and flavor information, and one with the adventure content. I’m likely to crowdfund these to see if they can garner up enough interest for a profitable print run as well.
I’ve avoided putting my stuff on DriveThru for a while; the bite they take out of revenue is large, and in most cases the print quality of their POD offerings is simply lower than the books I print in Latvia. But in 2020, all my PDFs will go up on DriveThru as well as through other channels. We’ll see what happens there.
I’ll be at two conventions early in 2020. The first is Con of the North, here in Minneapolis Feb 14-16. So Happy Valentine’s Day. The second is FnordCon, down in Austin TX. That’s April 3-5.
I’ve refined my techniques on these, but they’re only going to be available by special order, through the website. I love making them, and have gotten much, much better at it. But they’re not really on point for the publishing business. Even so, if you’re interested, reach out. They’re not cheap, but the shields in particular are going to be closer to what you might have seen historically (based on certain finds) than most of what you see made of plywood online. Some of those plywood guys cost more than my planked, accurate ones!
So that’s the recap for Gaming Ballistic. I’m not sure if the work above will be what folks want – I hope so – but it seems like a good plan for 2020. There might be one surprise – and it would be a big, cool one – that could show up later in the year.
It’s a full schedule, but less than I would be able to do if I could get the reach and interest to make my hobby job my day job. That, of course, is on me . . . and we’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ll win the lottery.
This past weekend, the very last item – a shield and sword for a backer who requested a purposeful delay in shipping in order to be home when it arrived – was mailed out.
As far as I know, this means 100% of all promised rewards for this campaign have been sent out.
Thanks for coming with me on this journey.
As most of you know, we launched and funded four more Nordlond books from Sept 10 through Oct 12. This funded in the first week, suffered through horrid doldrums until campaign close, and then we got a bit of a spike at the end.
I made a lot of progress in moving through the Backerkit tedium to get the pre-order store open for the books in the Nordlond Sagas campaign. That’s always painful, as it’s excruciatingly manual. International shipping also goes nowhere but up these days. It’s only a pass-through, but it’s still unwelcome.
I anticipate having the store open on Oct 27, so if you missed the campaign, you can get the books you want then. I’m going to try and arrange it so there’s no differentiation between pre-order backers and Kickstarter backers in terms of pricing and shipping. That’s not always easy.
In the future, I’m giving a very hard think to what kind, and how much, Dungeon Fantasy RPG content to offer. The strongest feedback thus far has been “great stuff, but so much of it…can’t digest!” That’s fair! But it’s also not something I can run a self-sustaining business off of.
So I’ll be doing a few things.
Nordlond Bestiary. You guys probably know I got pre-approval for the Nordlondr Ovinabokin, or “The Nordlond Enemies Book.” This is what we’ve all been poking for for a long time: an explicit conversion of a giant list of monsters to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. The original draft of “The Book of Foes,” from my DnD5e-based “Dragon Heresy” RPG spanned 130,000 words, including stat blocks, and had 200-250 creatures. My aim in 2020 is to bring the full draft over into the Dungeon Fantasy RPG space, only skipping creatures that are already in the Monsters boxed set, unless new “fluff text” is required. Obviously, you can skip the fluff – which is all based on the Nordlond setting – and just use the stats in any fantasy game, and frankly, in a Monster Hunters or similar critter-filled campaign world as well. This will not be a cheap book to produce, but I’m going to go all out on it. I hope you join me.
A Few Small Projects. I may release some focused products. Perhaps a Trevinur (Druids) book. Maybe a 5-room dungeon or two. But other than the big dog above (the Bestiary), my production of Dungeon Fantasy RPG material on Kickstarter will be more constrained.
Finish my TFT Commits. I have standing permission to bring three new TFT GM’d adventures, and up to two solos, to life from the same authors that brought you the “Four” Perilous Journeys that resulted in five new TFT books, NPC/Monster Cards, and some die-cut counters. This will be the first project launched after Nordlond Sagas completes.
New Approach to Crowdfunding. As a small business with no real post-crowdfunding income stream, my ability to source new works is really constrained more by the crowdfunding platform than by my ability to produce material. The usual “crowdfund, wait for funds to settle, post-funding phase” cycle is two full months long. Policy (and not a bad policy at that) is to not allow a new project to launch until the old ones are done. That limits campaigns to three or four a year. So I’m going to try something new with funding individual projects on a “first past the post” basis using my website and a crowdfunding app. I’ll try it with a small project first, and if it works out OK, see what that looks like. I do know the current model is unsatisfactory to both me and to those who have spoken up and given feedback, so I want to try something new.
New Product Lines. There are a few projects that I want to bring to life. One is an entirely new RPG. The other is a quiet discussion with another writer whose work I’d love to see print but a lot has to happen before that. More on this later; they’re second half of 2020 at best. I also might look into “same world, different setting” and bring a few new-feeling cultures/locations to the world on which Nordlond is set. Something that feels like Japan/Korea/China (the land of Inthriki), as well as Macedonian Greece or Republican Rome (Morevel). Perhaps that will refresh things!
Dragon Heresy Conversions. Likewise, once the Nordlond Sagas are done, I will probably pull apart Hall of Judgment, Nordvorn, Dragons of Rosgarth, and Forest’s End and publish one setting book and one compiled adventure book/path, all for Dragon Heresy. This will allow playing pretty much as-is with 5e as well. I’ll release these as PDF only and crowdfund a print run. That should keep costs down. I’ll also list all of the PDFs on DriveThru and see what happens there.
In any case: this brings The Citadel at Nordvorn to a formal close. Thanks, and I hope to see you around on other Gaming Ballistic projects in the future!
To run Gaming Ballistic as a growing business that is self-sustaining, I need to be able to turn more product, more quickly, and have it sell pretty well. Not exactly a unique business plan, right? But to do that, I probably need 2-3x the number of customers on any one project, and to turn 2-3x more releases. I’d hoped that after hitting 600 folks on both Nordvorn and Four Perilous Journeys, I could continue to grow that pool. The last project, though, showed clear signs of product fatigue. That’s a big concern, obviously, but hopefully some of the items outlined above will shake things up. If so, onward! If not . . . I’ll have to throttle back and look more towards a small number of releases each year, maybe only one or two. That will keep Gaming Ballistic the company around, but really just as an occasional player.