I’m a member of the Indie Game Developer Network. So when a member wrote that his Kickstarter was mid-swing, and a surfeit of real-life obligations prevented him from doing marketing for great justice (nod to Zero Wing). I offered to take a look at his product and review it.

The Book of Nouns

Well, yeah. The book contains about 80 different write-ups, categorized as landscapes; cities, towns, and buildings; events; people. There are twenty of each. There’s typically a full-color photograph of the thing in question, and a few pages of writeup, in 6×9 format. Every entry ends with some thoughts on how to use the idea in play.

It’s a straight-forward concept, and one might wonder if it’s needed in the age of Google? I’ll throw down an answer, which is that the world and it’s history is a vast and unruly place, and in order to search for something, you need to know it exists, or be very clever in your search terms.

This book takes some places you might or might not have heard of, people who have done great things (“terrible . . . but great,” to borrow a phrase, in some cases), cities and other events that make a place noteworthy, and then served ’em up to you as a jumping-off point for ideas.

Examples

I won’t spoil it, of course. But there are some very interesting entries in there.

Son Doong Cave

Oh, megadungeons. Not real. Too fake. Too contrived. Could never exist.

Hah. Then you’re not aware of Son Doong Cave – which I was not. Five and a half miles of caves (that’s 2,900 10′ map squares, or if you do four squares to the inch for your graph paper, you’re talking something like a map that’s sixty feet long). And that’s just the linear dimention. Some of the caves are 600′ wide and (more impressively, perhaps) 450′ tall, which is enough to easily support some pretty horrifying avian threats. Like dinosaurs. Just sayin’.

Tell me you can’t see great encounters happening in here? Continue reading “Review: Archive – Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs”

Reasonable behind the scenes work going on.

Game Development

Venture Beyond is heading towards a complete manuscript, with some darn nifty concepts threaded through. Took note of recent threads about how old games could fairly easily port in a reader’s favorite authors’ works, and how too-detailed settings and starmaps can eat the wonder from a setting because there’s nowhere for your cool stuff to go. So noted. And easily accommodated. This game is designed to have enough help to make it coherent and playable, but enough empty space to somewhere between encourage and demand improvisation and GM/player control. We’ve had great discussions like “Pirates are awesome, and space piracy is awesome, so how do we ensure piracy isn’t precluded by setting assumptions?” If we have tramp freighters and independent agents in ships that are not so expensive that the ability to buy one is the ability to live like a zillionaire, how is that viable at the same time as the equivalent of a container ship is viable? We want to emphasize the sheer fun of getting out there in the fringe, and making your own way. The feel of Firefly but with a much bigger scope, Traveller without quite so much inertia of pre-existing (though frequently cool) canon to fight if you want to tell stories that are more your own.

Anyway, I really like how things are shaping up, and we’re taking the time to do it right.

For Dragon Heresy, editing is happening. Art is also happening, and I have started to make the banner graphics with help provided by Michael Clarke:

So I have the outline for what I want to do, and now I just have to write the pitch. Should be easy with 425,000 words under my belt, right?

Not a huge update, but not every one will be. By the end of April, things will start to pop, I hope.

The Blog

I’ve been good – or at least better – about populating the blog with actual content.

It’s been fun writing again, and as any author will likely tell you, it’s a skill you have to practice. And as you practice, you get better, and it comes more easily. It’s been good to get back to some ballistics stuff, and I owe y’all a post from yesterday on 5e . . . and since I saw a thread on facebook on Guns and 5e (“No, no, please, no!” was a fairly typical response), I thought I’d indulge in a bit of “what if?”

I’m not big on the April Fools Day thing, so just take it as a coincidence that the GB update falls today.

Things have been more active on the blog this last week or so, something I hope to continue. I’ve re-established a posting schedule, and am sticking to it. Tomorrow, for example, is GunDay Sunday, and while I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing, I have a lot of options, including a Reloading Press, which I’ve not done for a while.

Schedule

The short version: everything’s late or delayed, and that’s just how things go.

I’ve got some Dragon Heresy artwork still pending, I’ve got editing hopefully being done on that same manuscript, which is about a month behind schedule. Venture Beyond is probably two weeks behind, which was somewhat expected, though there are some issues that if they’re not worked out will pose an issue for me. I was hoping to have VB ready to rock by summer, and Dragon Heresy by late fall . . . but some of that’s up in the air.

Still, it’s not like I’m holding other people’s money on this one. So those delays are irksome, but don’t represent a break with customers. And it’s not too late to yank things back on track, so we’ll see.

Pyramid

The Pyramid Wish List has been updated, and it’s fairly inspiring to me for the first time in a while. I can think of a few article I’d like to write, plus one that I made a major breakthrough on yesterday that will be fun to finally put to bed. I think there’s at least two issues it could fit into. Maybe three.

Sales

As noted in the March update, sales for Dungeon Grappling were very strong in March, thanks to the DriveThru’s GM’s Day Sale. 39 orders through them, and 3 more through my own web store. Not bad.

Week in Review

Some disappointing speed bumps, but still, more progress can be made. I can start work on the background for the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter, which can wrestle in priority with Venture Beyond in terms of which Kickstarter happens first.

It’s not like good things haven’t been happening, but they’re “below the waterline” stuff. I had a great discussion on cover concepts with Michael, and I think the final product is going to blow folks away. I’ve been learning some more InDesign, and I think I have made some progress into being a bit more self-sufficient. The graphics work that’s been done sets me up well to make slow but steady progress on getting the Kickstarter ready to launch, and I think that I’m probably a short stretch away from having all of my pre-launch art done that should set up previews of the layout, the races, the maps. Even the cover templates are view-worthy, and that’s even before the final illustrations are done.

So this is the sort of week that the business owner takes a deep breath, and decides that next week is a fresh start.

Here we are again, this Saturday, end of March, marks roughly the seventh month, sort of, since Gaming Ballistic was incorporated. While that might be the official incorporation date, it probably makes far more sense to date the birth of the company from roughly October 1, 2016, which is when I really decided that Dungeon Grappling needed to happen, and proceeded to plan and launch the Kickstarter by November.

In any case, what’s been going on?

Mostly trying to get back on to a regular posting schedule again. I got very, very head-down on working some of the projects I’ve been working, and noticed that I’d not written any real content on the blog, certainly not much of value-added nature, in weeks. Well, frack that.

My new intended posting plan is something like this:

So tomorrow I’ll either review the latest Pyramid, or I just got a copy of Cirsova Magazine #5, and I can throw down some game-inspiration notes from that. Means I need something OSR/ACKS-ish for Monday . . .

Beyond that, the only real question right now is which project gets far enough along to Kickstart first. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic – March Update”

Well, another month has come and gone, and what’s happened? More and less than one would think. I’ve been so head-down in doing the projects that my blogging and general evangelism has fallen off a bit.

Dungeon Grappling

Well, the book came out, well ahead of schedule, and in addition to those sales I made during the Kickstarter campaign (about 300), I moved about 24 more. Mostly PDF through DTRPG (15 sales there), and nine more – a healthy mix of print and PDF – personally and through my web store. I sold two copies of The Art of Dungeon Grappling, which is disappointing but perhaps unsurprising, despite the benefit to both charity and the artists.

The reviews have been very positive to date, so I can’t complain about that. Word will hopefully get out, especially as I broaden the applicability of the system and offer more products. Most folks probably just have been so burned with bad grappling in the past that they might not be interested. That was to be expected, I think – it’s a niche product. It’s a good product, but niche.

I will be running a few Dungeon Grappling Smackdown events at GenCon via the Independent Game Designer’s Network. More on that in coming months.

I also released Dungeon Grappling through CreateSpace. That was a bit of a chore, as I actually had to lay out the book again to meet Amazon’s margin requirements. But it’s available as both a softcover and a Kindle book (I’ve sold one Kindle version, and no CreateSpace print copies).

Dragon Heresy

Looking over my blog, I see I’ve not said much about Dragon Heresy. Well, things are moving. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic, LLC – February Update”

Hernan Ruiz Carnauer is someone I’ve known for a bit. I’ve seen and envied his Battlegrounds program, and backed his last few Kickstarters, some of which funded, others which did not.

This one, though: MapForge, falls into the category of “Shut up and take my money!”

Look at those textures. And those are programmable tiles – watch the video, and you’ll see the stuff you can do.

Hernan has the moxie to pull this off, as any player of his Battlegrounds VTT can attest. It’s already funded, but awesome deserves to be rewarded. He’s very customer-oriented, and I know he’ll deliver.

I’m in for $30. You should be too. These are fantastic looking maps that you’ll be able to whip up, and if things get really good, perhaps modern maps, sci-fi maps, and other expansions are not far behind? That’s the kind of thing that happens if a project overfunds – you start looking for ways to deliver even more awesome to your backers and customers.

I thought I’d try and sweep up the reviews that have come in for Dungeon Grappling into one place. I may have missed a few, and if that’s the case, please ping me and I’ll add it!

Dungeon Grappling Review (Shane Plays)

I’m not one for suspense in reviews, so I’ll say right off the bat that I feel this is a good product and especially so given this is the author’s first RPG effort that I am aware of outside of articles and supplements for other games.

It offers a rich, alternative and, for the most part, non-lethal combat system that runs in parallel with the existing combat systems in D&D, Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry.

Norbert G. Matausch (Combatives Instructor)

I like it. As a combatives instructor, I like it even more because it does well what all the other grappling rules I know have done poorly or not at all: it really makes grappling interesting. Very cool. Let’s not forget that grappling is as old as mankind, and that it was an important part of every complete weapon fighting system, e.g., medieval sword-fighting schools.

Recommended.

Dust Pan Games (Mark Van Vlack)

“My quick impression after reading through the rules quickly is this. Dungeon Grappling is very well thought out and very well produced supplement for fantasy games. As a supplement “Dungeon Grappling” will be best used by players and game masters who believe grappling is under-served by the rules normally provided in traditional fantasy games. While there is a bit of extra set up and book keeping involved, the result is more detailed and eloquent grappling for your game.

Conclusion: It’s legit. If you think your game will have or should have more grappling, it’s easily worth the purchase.”

ENWorld (Random Bystander)

These grappling rules are unlike any other grappling rules I have ever tried or read. They are fun and easy to use. They flow naturally, and make sense. At no point was I left wondering “How did this happen?” or “Why did this happen?”

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?500121-Dungeon-Grappling-Kickstarter-is-now-live!#ixzz4YFpCS1bV

Games and Geekdom. (What do I know about Reviews?).

“it’s a solid, interesting product for multiple game systems, and it has value beyond literally using it at the table, just to see a well thought out breakdown of the game mechanics used in multiple similar, but different games. In other words, it’s well written, well thought out, and it will be useful and interesting for a wide range of gamers from a variety of systems.

Much like the Book of the Tarrasque, this book showcases what small press publishers can do with a topic that it just doesn’t make sense for major publishers to address.

**** (out of five)”

Misdirected Mark #246.

They took a look at the preview, and in summary:

  • They said it treats grappling the same way that they treat the Tarrasque in their own book, and said that in a positive way
  • Mentioned all the things you can do with it
  • Specifically called out that the book was “gorgeous”
  • Made postive mention of The Art of Dungeon Grappling, with 50% going to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and 35% going as a bonus to the artists.

Castalia House (Jeffro Johnson, In the Mail).

“as much as I love the old games, I have to say… the grappling rules in basically everything in the bad old days were just plain garbage. Just like with old school mega-dungeons and the AD&D domain game, it’s taken a surprisingly long time to sort this out. You’ll probably want two copies, though: one to use with your big pile of ACKS books… and one to loan out to your new school acquaintances! (And I have to say… this book really does set off the ACKS line rather nicely…!)

Check it out!”

Quick Review: Dungeon Grappling – YouTube

Dungeon Grappling – eBook Review | Follow Me And Die!

I have already done a review of an advanced copyPDF, and book for Dungeon Grappling. Doug did above I beyond and along with the PDF released two eBook formats ePub & mobi.

I fired up my Kindle and loaded it up. It is Black & white with no graphics for speed at the table. All the content is otherwise the same. It has the linked table of contents and index like the PDF.

It has a clean and crisp layout. I’ve not tried using my Kindle at the table, but I may have to give it a go.”

Quasar Knight’s Fantasy Blog: KickTracking: Dungeon Grappling.

The book itself is 53 pages, full-color. The artwork is very good, and the meat of the mechanics can be summed up in the use of Control Points, a kind of pseudo-hit point system reflecting how “beaten into submission” a target is in regards to grappling. I can’t help but feel that won’t really cut down on “book-keeping clutter,” for as it is another value to keep track of in regards to hit points, spell slots, etc. Even more so if multiple creatures are grappled or grappling in the same fight.

The book seems rules-heavier than I like, but in regards to individual systems it does seem to make fighters, monks, and martial types quite competent in grappling in Swords & Wizardry. However, in Pathfinder  the problem of huge monsters having extremely high CMD (Combat Maneuver Defense) values is still a problem as the CMD is substituted for a target’s Grapple DC (or the overall defense value when people try to grapple you). As for 5th Edition, the Athletics skill is still important for various grappling moves and defenses, meaning that Bards and Rogues with Expertise and raging Barbarians are still the best class choices for this.

Although I was expecting a more quick and dirty rules-lite option in lieu of a gradient scale, the professionalism and early delivery of the KickStarter  helped earn trust from Gaming Ballistic and any future projects they might have in store.”

Castalia House Blog (Brian Renninger).

“I have greeted with enthusiasm Douglas Coles supplement Dungeon Grappling which introduces an excellent approach to adding wrestling and other unarmed combat to role playing games by adapting systems most players are familiar with. Dungeon Grappling has already been reviewed (see below) in several places so I won’t repeat what has already been said elsewhere other than to give a hearty recommendation for its use. Rather than a review, I thought I’d give a couple examples of how it might work in play.”

Follow Me and Die! (Final PDF Review)

“The PDF comes in at 53 pages, it has awesome art, and the table of contents is hyperlinked. The index also contains hyperlinks to the page numbers. Color coding of the section headers is continued in the table of contents and the index. There is a background image, but unlike most of them I have seen, here it is faded out so I can actually read the text. Attention to the details of both usability and legibility in the text is awesome!

One can take all of this system, or just the parts they need. I play AD&D, and its grappling system is so cumbersome that few dare try it. I plan to implement this in the games I run and an upcoming special project game on Roll20.”

 

Methods and Madness.

Overall, I am impressed with the work. Most problems I’ve noticed were fixed by turning the page – literally. “Wouldn’t it be better if…?”, “Oh, okay”; “But what about …?”, “I see, he thought of that too”. The author has provided multiple options for most mechanics – for example, when I wrote about Fifth Edition stunts, I mentioned some ups and down of using  using damage as a gauge of effectiveness instead of skill contests, and Douglas provides both options.

The book includes grappling for characters, monsters, spells, etc. It considers monks, thieves and other classes; it mentions using weapons when grappling and taking from your enemy. In short, Dungeon Grappling has all I could expect from a book like this. I would recommend it for anyone wanting to add more grappling to a 5e or S&W / OSR game.

RPGGeek.

“This supplement actually has me excited about grappling in my games again. I think it will make the fights easier and more exciting with better defined and more predictable outcomes. Basically, these are the grappling rules I’ve always wanted.”

The OmnusCritic. (preview review)

The OmnusCritic provides a 21-minute video review of the book, evaluating it and giving a passing grade on four criteria: aesthetics, writing, mechanics, and value.”

The Round Table with James Introcaso. (during the KS)

Less a review than a 75-minute discussion of the project, game rules for grappling, and other motivations and aesthetics animating the design. Still, if you really want to hear a passionate discussion of why grappling should be more important in fantasy RPGs . . . look no further than this conversation.

Tenkar’s Tavern. (preview review)

what I have looked at looks good. He even addresses rulesets with descending AC. I’ll give this a closer look over the coming week. Did I mention the buy in is just 5 bucks? Seriously. Currently PDF only, 5 bucks to solve my RPG grappling issues that have dogged me for the last 33 years or so? Priceless…”

Ravens’N’Pennies. (preview review)

“Dungeon Grappling is a cohesive set of rules that works across multiple iterations of Dungeons and Dragons. For those familiar with his work on GURPS Technical Grappling Doug approaches the problem in the same way, but tweaked for a different game engine – and it works surprisingly well. To tell you how easy it is I’ve not looked at the new Dungeons and Dragons, glanced at Swords and Wizardry, and gave up on Pathfinder a while back. The system he presents was intuitive, easy to understand, and provides a lot of flavor. In short, it’s a module you can just bolt on and go.”

Dungeon Fantastic.  (preview review)

“I’d urge you to check out this Kickstarter. Doug’s got a solid product here – I’ve seen it (I mean, its origin was a co-authored article and I’m the co-author) and it is good. It’s really superior to most of the clunky, ineffective, or downright risky grappling rules that come with so many games. Take a look and give it a chance.”

Follow Me, and Die! (preview review)

“This is something that has been needed in RPG’s for a long time. The Grappling Rules in AD&D are notoriously challenging to implement in play. The short and simple system introduced in Manor #8 is expanded in these pages. It gives a bare bones system and adds options and touches on how it can be used in specific systems. The basic rules will work for variations of the original game and clones, as well as later editions and variants of the original game.

The system is built on a basis of normal combat resolution. I like this approach. Use what is there instead of building a new system that doesn’t feel right. Another good example of this is what James Spahn did in White Star with vehicle combat using the same format as individual combat. I can’t think of a situation not explicitly covered in these rules.”

Original Edition Rules. (preview review)

“Dungeon Grappling is a supplement for your old-school RPG that gives a fast, simple, and robust system for moderating unarmed combat. We loved this system so much that we used it as inspiration for unarmed combat in the Guardians super hero role playing game, and has become the de facto system for all our Original Edition rules. ” The author of this review is Thomas Denmark, who wrote the Guardians superhero RPG with David Pulver.

Bat in the Attic. (preview review)

The basic idea is that there a better way of dealing with grappling. Doug developed a set of mechanics that takes the same basic mechanics of rolling to hit and inflicting damage and turns the result into something meaningful when it comes to grappling. He did this for GURPS and now he doing this for classic DnD, Pathfinder, and DnD 5e with the kickstarter.”

Shane Plays Radio. (during the Kickstarter)

This 30-minute live radio show got into a lot of things, but was a bit light on the details of the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter itself. That was my fault.

Gothridge Manor. (preview review)

“When I run a game I like to have options available for my characters…good options. The way grappling stands in most games it isn’t a good option and the players don’t consider it when in combat. With Doug’s system, combat doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Kill or be killed. In this way it allows for more roleplaying. I’ve never liked the subdual rules of most fantasy RPGs. Basically it’s a crappy way of patching a hole over something the developers couldn’t figure out. Doug has figured it out. And it’s good. And it’s useful. And it doesn’t slow down play.”

Dungeon Grappling Winds Down

I’ve received enough feedback from folks that I know that at least EU and USA hardcopies should have been more than trickling in. If you don’t have yours by the end of this week, please contact me at gamingballistic@gmail.com, and I’ll pester DriveThruRPG on your behalf.

Feedback for those that read, review, and use the book continues to be sparse but positive. I’m hoping as folks get their book, use it in games, and write about it online that word of mouth (word of electrons?) will spread and sales will pick up beyond the Kickstarter.

Speaking of sales: two dozen. That’s about how many non-Kickstarter books and PDFs have moved. It went on sale about two weeks ago, so the run rate is on the order of one per day.

Dragon Heresy Ramps Up

As one project ends, another . . . continues. I’d set down my Big Project in order to get Kickstarter experience with Dungeon Grappling. But that’s done now, and I’m digging in hard on Dragon Heresy.

  • I’ve got the manuscript done (425,000 words! Likely 750-800 pages)
  • I’ve send the manuscript to Ken Hite for editing
  • I’ve mostly decided to release it in three books (mostly characters, mostly action/setting, monsters)
  • I’m finishing up some preparatory art commissions to help sell the game. You’ll recognize the names (Juan, Gennifer).
  • I also have maps, procured a while ago.
  • I’ve brought on Michael Clarke for layout, cover design, and cover paintings, after he did a great job with that on Dungeon Grappling. It was a difficult decision, as I attracted some very talented folks for that job.
  • I am currently gathering artists . . . and since I’m anticipating 375-425 pieces of color art for the book, I need 20-30 of them if the time from “Kickstarter ends” to “PDF ships” is to be kept reasonable, and by “reasonable” I mean about 18-20 weeks to final delivery.

Continue reading “Dungeon Grappling winds down; Dragon Heresy spins up”

Gaming Ballistic, LLC is thrilled to announce that our very first product, Dungeon Grappling, is now available through DriveThruRPG.

Available in PDF and premium-Print-on-Demand, Dungeon Grappling allows you to bring grappling to editions of the most popular fantasy RPG including the OSR (with Swords and Wizardry as an explicit example), the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and Fifth Edition.

Featuring gorgeous art by Gennifer Bone, Michael Clarke, Juan Ochoa, Rick Troula, and Christian Villacis, laid out by World Wide Wrestling RPG designer and publisher Nathan D. Paoletta, Dungeon Grappling is ready to make your players fear tentacles, pincers, and giant apes as they never have before.

 

I did not expect to be sending this note today.

I received word from DriveThruRPG that my POD file had been approved this morning. That meant I could process all of the print orders, which I think I have done.

If you did NOT receive an email from me today, and you expect to receive a print copy, contact me immediately, because somehow you got missed.

If you DID get an email, then please allow 1-3 weeks for delivery for the US and most of Europe. All orders should be in your hands within 7 weeks, no matter where you are.

And just in case you missed the last roughly fifty updates (wow, that’s quite a few), here’s what you should be seeing. Also, we fixed up the index a bit, and now it’s actually useful (I had a bad experience trying to find something in my own flippin’ book, so I knew it had to change).

In any case, the Kickstarter isn’t over until all of you have your stuff in good shape . . . but other than dealing with missed line items and destroyed packages, this is pretty much the end.

Thanks so much for supporting my project. The NEXT one will be even cooler. Stay tuned!

Oh . . . and if y’all wouldn’t mind going online and saying nice things about Dungeon Grappling, that would be spectacular. Or suggest that your Favorite Local Game Store contact GBLLC and order some? Bonus points for being awesome.

No matter what, I’m always available at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com

Thanks again!