Gaming Ballistic is pleased to announce that the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set will be coming to Kickstarter in April 2018.

Dragon Heresy is a Norse-inspired setting and supporting roleplaying game. It is built around a fantasy representation of the Nine Realms, where the Aesir, fae, dragons, and fiends all vie for control of Etera in the mortal realm of Midgard. The PCs are looking to become mighty heroes, and venture north into the ancient lands of the former demense of the Elder Dragons to find fame, fortune, glory, and magic.

It builds off of the excellent SRD5.1 game engine, but with adjustments and additions made to match the feel of the setting and provide more nuance to combat and struggle

  • Division of HP into wounds and vigor for a more coherent treatment of rest and injury
  • Shields are way, way cooler
  • Enhanced use of existing mechanics to add nuance and risk to combat
  • Grappling rules that don’t suck

The Dragon Heresy Introductory Set is a fully playable game, covering character creation, adventuring from Level 1-5, combat, gear, and challenges. In the book you will find:

  • Choose from Fighter, Berserker, Cleric, and Wizard classes
  • Humans, Dwarves, Half-elf, and Dragonborn available as races
  • Norse-inspired culture, cosmology, and mythology
  • Deadly and tactically interesting combat Rules refined from the 5th edition of the world’s most popular fantasty RPG

The book will be approximately 256 pages, with major sections for

  • Character creation – including races, classes, backgrounds, equipment, and spells from Level 1-5
  • Core Mechanics – what’s the same, and what’s different, from SRD5.1
  • Running the Game – example rules for survival and overland travel in a hostile wilderness, risks and rewards, a random treasure generation table suitable for the levels in the book
  • Combat – all you need to live and die by violence, including melee weapons, new rules for shield use, grappling rules that don’t suck, and more. Fights are not driven by attrition, integrating morale and the potential for sudden incapacitation
  • Injury, Rest, and Healing – Dragon Heresy differentiates strongly between wounds, vigor, and exhaustion to make resting vs. healing a meaningful distinction.
  • Spellcasting and Spell Lists from spell level 1-3
  • A brief introduction to the Norse-inspired world of Etera
  • Over 100 monsters custom-modified and rewritten to suit the mythology and cosmology of the Nine Realms

Read on for more details!

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Introductory Set coming to Kickstarter in April”

It’s taken a bit, mostly because I was working personally with two busy folks, but all Kickstarter rewards have now been delivered: the two character sheets with portraits were finalized and delivered for my Styðja-level backers last weekend.

It was a fun ride. As I noted before, I indulged in a bit of extravagance by splurging on a piece of art that took the project to date from break-even to a bit of a loss. However . . .

There’s more coming for Lost Hall of Tyr. I wish I could discuss it . . . but look for an announcement on my mailing list and blog in a week or two.

I’ve also been hard at work on the next voyage into Etera – a very important one. The core rulebook for the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set is in layout and final assembly. Sometime this coming weekend, I should have the chapters on Foes (80-125 pages and about 100 critters, depending on how it lays out) added to the 140-150 pages of core rules for level 1-5. That’s right down the pipe for what I wanted.

Here’s an image of a sample of interior layout:

And another WIP of the cover:

I expect you will see this in Kickstarter some time in April. Early April if things go well.

Thanks for joining me for Lost Hall of Tyr!


Another quick use of GREP

Find: (.*)\r

Find Style: Topic (my header style)

Change to: $0================>

The key thing here is the $0, which is InDesign for “grab whatever you just found.” The equals signs and greater-than sign are actually what I get when I paste the graphic that Michael built in to my template.

What that does is find every instance of my Topic Paragraph Style and selects the entire line. It rewrites the line exactly, and then adds the graphic afterwards:

Since once one determines this works, it takes seconds to make the switch, being able to do things like this is a big deal.

There’s still occasionally some formatting I have to do. But by and large, this sort of thing is a ridiculous time-saver for things.

Working with Tables

No way ’round it. They’re annoying.

But . . . one thing I found out the hard way is that working with a table there are several different ways you can do it, and they’re all different, and all needed.

  • You can use the select tool, which picks out the frame.
  • You can use the Text tool and click inside the text, which works with the cells
  • You can also use the text tool to highlight entire lines of cells, which is slightly different

This next one was the big reveal for me

  • If you right-cursor or manage to click so that the cursor position becomes the ENTIRE left side of your table, that allows you to use centering and other things to keep the table within your frame, or indent it, or whatever.

This was a huge deal for me, because for whatever reason, I kept having my tables offset from my frame, which meant that lining up the frame with the columns did me no good.

In Closing

Working with InDesign is subtle. It’s like a Wizard that way, and the program is quick to anger, and publishers apparently taste good with ketchup.

But I was able, with a bit of consultation from Michael and a lot of “Oh. Oh! OH!!!” moments over the weekend, lay out in good form the entire non-monster portion of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set. 150 laid-out pages for about 94,000 words.

This is a huge deal for me. It probably means that at worst, the intro set will be 272 pages, which is more than I’d like but not crazed. If the new monster format I worked out with Michael comes in at 550 words per page it means the thing will nicely fit into my original 256-page “shoot for this” scheme.

If I can hit the same word density as the first bits I’ve laid out already, we’re on target for 240 pages, which is in my mind the ideal target. But really, anywhere between 240 and 256 works for me.

Next up is collecting all of my existing art assets in one place and seeing what art holes naturally exist in the document. I didn’t purposefully add any, and removed quite a few. I’m violating some layout rules in the Intro Set to keep page count down. But overall, I should be able to use and re-use most of what I have (and some is original to Dragon Heresy in general) and keep things restrained.

That means I can probably Kickstart the thing in April. Watch for it!

Earlier I went through and took a stab at what it costs to develop an RPG book. One can consider these, in somewhat imprecise terms, economic costs, rather than an accounting or cash-flow cost, in that it’s not required to write checks for all of them. Further, the costs presented represent doing everything on a contracting basis, and everything bespoke, meaning created for your game from scratch.

This is not remotely the only way to do it. It’s probably not even necessarily the best way to do it.

So I’m going to muse here on ways to reduce both the economic cost as well as the cash cost of RPG development. Continue reading “Economizing on RPG Development Costs”

I’m thrilled to be able to report that Lost Hall of Tyr physical copies have been mailed to the backers that ordered them, and I now have stock of the softcover on sale through my web store.

Lost Hall was a grand and fun experiment. It was a GenCon scenario designed to show off both Dungeon Grappling and peek into the Etera setting that will be more sharply featured in the upcoming Dragon Heresy RPG.

In both respects, the peek was successful. Reviewers commented that the inclusion of Norse and pseudo-Norse elements were well done, while both convention games went quite well, and of the fifteen people that played it, even the one I thought based on body language was going to have harsh negative feedback had nice things to say. Those that walked away with a comment all noted that the system made grappling fun, for the first time in many cases.

I still have a few things to do before I can post my final “tale of the tape” for financials. As noted, my splurging on a piece of art by a top-shelf artist was a risk I took gladly, and it’s a gorgeous image. Net/net on release, though, it probably cost me about $500-1000 more than I brought in from the Kickstarter to make the book. All things considered, that’s not bad, and once again I delivered PDF and physical rewards months ahead of time. PDFs were delivered two months early, and updated with tweaks and fixes since then, including a full bookmarking pass. The Physical copies were not promised until April, and so were a minimum of three months early.

So: Lost Hall of Tyr. Go get it. It’s available for 5e and Swords & Wizardry, and includes a Dungeon Grappling quick-start for those curious.

Final Print Schedule

I’ve held off sending this out so that I don’t spam your email boxes, but I finally can confidently report on the print copy final schedule.

The print copies should ship to me by Thursday, which means that sometime between Saturday and Monday, I should receive 125 copies of Lost Hall of Tyr, of which roughly 96 are destined for US backers.

The packaging is all ready to go, mailing labels attached. The shipping content printouts are going to be done today. We’ve got plenty of packing tape. So is all we have to do is get stuff in boxes and tape ’em up. Then the “you have got to be kidding me” moment when I bring in 96 of them to the USPS.

But that means that the promised schedule of all print copies distributed by the end of January (ahead of an April delivery statement from the Kickstarter) can be confirmed unless horrible things happen. This is Minnesota, and snowpocalypse requires the plural form here, but things look good.

The only deliverables left are the two high level tier’s art-and-character promises. I have a character sheet from Michael that’s very pretty, and solid input from both folks. As soon as this weekend I’ll contact the artists and get them some direction, and we’ll get this wrapped up. Those are an April delivery promise as well, and that should be well in hand.

What’s Next

That will wrap it up for Lost Hall of Tyr, and thanks to all for sticking with me.

If you like the world of Lost Hall, I have some good news for you. I’m working through edits for a full game based in that world. It is fully playable with the 5e rules, but is really built around an OGL modification of the system called Dragon Heresy. I also plan a full adventure mini-setting for the world of Etera, tentatively titled The Hunted Lands (Veiddurlond, much like Lost Hall of Tyr was Domstollinn).

This one won’t be a linear convention scenario, but a living chunk of the world, centered on a very hazardous region of Torengar that is slightly North and East of the starting point for Lost Hall. I estimate it will have six to eight “plot chunks,” which will relate to each other. Four to six characters that start at level 1 will be able to reach level 5 without completing every last jot and tiddle of every encounter.

I’m working through that development process now.

You can find more on my plans for 2018 at Gaming Ballistic.

December 26th marked the fifth year of Gaming Ballistic as a blog, and (roughly) the first complete year as Gaming Ballistic, LLC, the company. As I look at my year in review, I know in advance what it’s going to say: I ran out of time to do a lot of things I liked doing with the blog, and things didn’t quite go as planned with Gaming Ballistic, LLC either.

So, let’s take a look


I had 24 posts in December, which isn’t bad at all, though only 8 of them were about GURPS. And a lot happened. My webstore went live, and Dungeon Grappling, completed in December, began final distributions ahead of schedule.

Dragon Heresy was in editing, so nothing was written about that, and I see that at the time I was posting monthly Gaming Ballistic LLC updates.


Only 16 posts this month, 7 of them about GURPS. No reloading press nor GunDay this month either. This means that I’d already fallen off my daily posting schedule. Unsurprisingly, I made a lot of posts about Dungeon Grappling – it went up on Amazon, which has garnered me something like a single sale, despite a lot of headaches in the preparation and submission of the file. That was a lesson learned: for that book, at least, Amazon simply isn’t worth it.

February also marks the time where I started at Asfolk taking Viking Martial Arts, as experiential research for shield use in Dragon Heresy. While it doesn’t show up on the blog for a while, it makes a big impact in my thinking about fantasy gaming and combat in both GURPS and D&D-based games.


Back to 22 posts, which is better. Not daily, but at least hitting about two days in three. 14 of them were about GURPS, which was nice to see. I did a few reviews and commentary (ACKS, Dungeon Fantasy issue of Pyramid), and continued playing and reporting the very high point superhero campaign in GURPS, Christopher Rice’s Aeon. I made the first post on Venture Beyond with David Pulver, which was supposed to be a quick-turn project but turned into a much longer, drawn-out thing: it was supposed to be ready to playtest by the end of March. That got extended because the game scope expanded quite a bit, and making a complete game from whole cloth, which is what he’s doing, is hard. We thought we had a complete core that could quickly be polished, and we were wrong. As of Dec 2017, the manuscript is almost finished but he’s still tweaking.

From a business perspective, that was a big miss for my plans. I was hoping to go from $5,000 from Dungeon Grappling, to $25,000 or so for Venture Beyond, to $125,000 for Dragon Heresy. Wildly ambitious, I know, but startups like mine frequently are wildly ambitious, and I never wanted Gaming Ballistic to just sputter along. I wanted it to change my life. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic 2017 Year in Review”

There was an error in the Dec 7 update for the PDF of Lost Hall of Tyr. The final map was exported BELOW a background layer, making the climax map for the entire adventure . . . a black void.


Problem fixed with u12152017, which has been blasted out to all backers. Sorry about that!

The PRINT version is fine; all three proofs I have contain the proper maps.

Having received both proof copies of Lost Hall – one from PubGraphics and one from DriveThruRPG – and found them both worthy, I went ahead and placed the orders.

The International Orders were fulfilled through DriveThruRPG, and will likely arrive in two weeks (if you’re in the UK) to somewhere between then and about nine or ten weeks (if you’re lucky enough to live in New Zealand). Let me know.

Note that I have no way to sign these – they don’t come to me – so if you asked for a signed copy but don’t live in the USA, I have to apologize. That would have cost us both over $30 extra, and no softcover 62-page book is worth that.

I expect to receive a box of 125 copies of Lost Hall from PubGraphics in maybe two or three weeks. I will immediately get those packed up (with copies of Dungeon Grappling if you ordered them), toss in some promo material, and get those into the USPS via media mail. From there, it’ll be 2 to 9 days, usually about a week. That means you should be getting your physical rewards between the first and third week of January.

We’re really in the home stretch now! If we get into late January and you’ve not heard from me or received your package, email me at and I’ll get busy looking for where it went.

I am not surprised by this, but the PubGraphics proof arrived today (a day before the DriveThru one) and they look great. I have to ask them if there’s any way I could order 125 of these things and get them by Dec 19, though – otherwise they’ll likely arrive after I’m away for a Christmas excursion.

Still: looking good. Some pictures below the break.

Continue reading “Lost Hall of Tyr: PubGraphics Proofs Look Great!”