We’re now at 48 hours to go on the Hall of Judgment Kickstarter. It has been, and likely will continue to be, an awesome and humbling experience.

It’s not even done yet, and it’s already been my most successful KS to date from a number of backers perspective, and may yet still eclipse Dragon Heresy as my most financially successful KS as well.

And let’s not beat around the bush here. While money to me is of course good for me, the licensing revenue to SJGames is the best of all. Darn near infinite ROI. But it’s really just the start: as Zarina said in The Pirate Fairy (can you tell I have two girls?): “From a trickle to a roar!”

This is the time: go to your social network, go to your Favorite Local Game Stores if you have one, tell your friends. Share this, encourage folks to pledge. Let’s freakin’ blow up the last two days.

What’s in it for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG community:

What’s in it for you?

  • A Foreword by Sean “Dr. Kromm” Punch, GURPS Line Editor, that should make everyone that’s wanted to publish for GURPS sit up and take notice
  • 20 pages of viking-inspired town, with festivals, culture, and adventure seeds Three micro-dungeons to explore: a ruins and two underground warrens.
  • Five maps by MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal), ENnie-nominated cartographer. These things are unbelievably cool.
  • The main adventure, featuring a non-linear evolution in encounters, not-just-combat challenges, and more
  • Over a dozen sample characters; five or six are backer submitted at the Thegn of Your Own tier!
  • More than 30 creatures ready to play with a new open layout for easy digestion.

This book is VERY different, and quite frankly, better in almost every way than Lost Hall of Tyr, from which it sprung. 128 pages (rather than 64), full color, awesome art, and layered and hyperlinked for ease of use. The print copies will be 93#/140gsm interior paper; fulfillment is from the UK so international shipping should be pretty affordable.

Finally: let’s not beat around the bush: let me quote from the aforementioned foreword:

 “…it bodes well for Dungeon FantasyRoleplaying Game fans and fans of SJ Games products in general. We now have evidence that licensing third-party publishers to crowdfund content for our games pays off. That isn’t a guarantee we’ll agree to every proposal—our standards remain exacting, and we still prefer people we know and trust—but it means we’ll listen. Intently.” -Sean “Dr. Kromm” Punch

Please help drive more support the Hall of Judgment Kickstarter.

48 hours to go.

So, it’s time. Dragon Heresy print approval has been secured.

This morning I received notification that my acceptance of the final proofs has initiated the printing process. Just need to mail ’em a check, which I will do this very day.

This means I’ll be locking down addresses so I can start the process of figuring out fulfillment and how to get the books to folks.

Allowing for the two-day delay adjusts the anticipated schedule to this:

US Backers/Pre-Orders

  • July 10: I give the OK to print
  • July 27: Fold-and-gather samples are ready
  • July 30: I give permission to bind the books
  • August 9: Advance prelim copies are shipped to me from the printer
  • Aug 14: Ready to Ship
  • Aug 20: Estimated Departure from Printer[1]
  • September 24: Arrival in MN
  • Mid-October: Books arrive to backers in USA

Not-the-USA Backers/Pre-Orders

  • Aug 20: Estimated Departure from Printer to fulfillment in Korea
  • Aug 27-Sept 4: Arrival in Korea; pack and ship to international
  • Early to Mid October: Books arrive in Not-the-USA

Final Steps

I need folks to validate that their shipping addresses are correct in Backerkit. I will be locking them down on Saturday. From there, I will parse out final distributions. If you’re looking for a shipped book and I don’t have your address, things will get very expensive to fix, though I will leave a few surplus books in Korea to pick up stragglers.

After we lock down and confirm shipping, it’s really all over but the waiting.

Thanks for coming this far. I can’t wait to hold the book in my hands.

I’m going to host an Ask Me Anything about Hall of Judgment, Gaming Ballistic, and anything else gaming-related you want to chat about.

Thanks to the actions of Erik Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern, I now have a channel on his Discord server. Since he’s got a lot of folks there regularly, I figured his site would be a better place to host it than my channel.

So: if you want to Ask Me Anything, come by and join the Gaming Ballistic channel of the Tenkar’s Tavern Discord. It will somewhat contemporaneous with the Wednesday Tavern Chat (8pm until folks get worn out), but that’s fine too!

There will be a voice channel available as well as text chat.

See you tomorrow!

I wasn’t happy with two of the images for Dragon Heresy. They’re signature images that were originally part of the first set of “this is how the book will look” color proofs. Now the proof finals are in.

I received the adjusted prints in the mail today, and they’re much better.

There’s not a ton of difference between them but there are a few details that were important that they not be lost in low-contrast/over-dark images.

But these are good. So that means that I’ll send one final reminder on Backerkit, and then lock down shipping addresses. Please see to it that your shipping addresses are correct so there are no mistakes!

Guess that means it’s time to write another big check.

Here we go!

(If you missed the Kickstarter, pre-orders are still being taken! If you are worried about international shipping, I’ve got that covered through splitting off some books to a fulfillment helper in Korea, which will cut the price tag of that quite a bit)

Hall of Judgment Final Week

We’re in the final week for Hall of Judgment, and there’s been a lot of movement on the Kickstarter! We passed $12,000 and that puts us on track to more-or-less equal Dragon Heresy unless we see something, as Mr. Furious would say, “either very good or very bad.”

Layout: Block and Tackle

I’ve been working really hard to pull things together, and the efforts are paying off. In quick-point format:

  • Sean “Dr. Kromm” Punch, GURPS Line Editor and author of the DFRPG, will be contributing the Foreword to Hall of Judgment! I made the offer to SJG, Steve pronounced it virtuous (his word!), and I’m very excited to have that going in there.
  • John Adamus, editor extraordinaire, turned around my manuscript in twelve hours, and caught enough detailed points that it was clear he got both content and copy. If you’re in the market for an editor: hire this man.
  • I’ve got the first full layout pour of the document in place. So there’s a page for just about everything that needs to go there. Title page, Kickstarter Backer credits, Table of Contents, Crazy Norse Words pronunciation glossary, Town, Journey, Dungeons, the Hall itself, Grappling, Pre-gens, Bestiary, and a bit of modified backstory for those that care.
  • The PDF as-is, no maps, no art, no orphan text fixes, is 116 pages. So my delivery target for a print book will be 128 interior pages; likely the PDF will be 131 or 132 for spacing and facing for the cover.
  • The maps are still being worked, but there’s lots of time for that. Each is a page in size, so they’re easy to plan for in layout. No delays expected there.
  • The pre-gens are coming along nicely. The eight promised with the book are done. I think I have 2-3 of the backer-submitted ones in hand already, if not fully laid out.
  • The monsters are also coming along; perhaps half done. The core 16 that originally came with Lost Hall of Tyr are finished, and the 14-15 more that are added with Hall of Judgment are next on the list.
  • Fantastic Dungeon Grappling got another small revision and is looking solid.

I’ve got 22 days left until the deadline set by “we plan to release the product in August” promise I made in the April 1 announcement, and the PDF will be ready by then.

Printing

That leaves us with the print question. At this point, we’ve got 275 (ish) print backers. That’s more than enough to get us out of POD, but not enough to drive to a full offset print run.

Wild and crazy things can happen, and I hope they do. What does this mean? It means unless we see a wild uptick, I’ll be using a short-run printer in the UK to deliver 140gsm interior pages (that’s about 93# paper; typical DriveThru is 70#/105gsm).

Because the printing is in the UK and the fulfillment partner I’ll be using is also in the UK, I expect to be working hard on the shipping side of things. I’ll probably know more in two weeks on that score.

Ask Me Anything

I’m working on a “final week Ask Me Anything” session, probably a few hours long, sometime this week. Not sure what that will look like, but I want to do it and take questions about the process, the adventure, and anything gaming-related. Or viking related.

Campaign Close Process

That brings us to the finishing touches.

The campaign closes July 14, which is this coming Saturday. I would deeply appreciate re-shares on social media, and talking about the project in general. The better we do, the more likely SJG is to want to do this again.

When the campaign closes, I’ll ready and fire up the Backerkit phase, which will have a short survey to get your pledges allocated to product. For those not getting add-ons, is all you’ll do with the “survey” is:

  • Validate you’re getting the product you want
  • Pay for shipping
  • Select any add-ons you’d like
  • Answer a few questions about the product, and what you’d like to see next

It is pretty important to be prompt on this one, and the survey period will be short: Probably 7-10 working days.

Note that Backerkit does not set the pace for digital reward delivery. As long as the funds settle and there’s no weirdness with payment (this happens every campaign; it’s depressingly normal) you’ll get your PDF on August 1.

So that’s it! This is the home stretch, and while there’s still work to be done, that work is pretty well defined at this point.

Grab your axe and shield, board your longship and let’s finish strong. Glory awaits.

Hall of Judgment Character and Monster Templates taking shape

I’ve been working on the writing, which is now in the “I have something for everything” stage, and now turning to editing and converting from Fifth Edition/Dragon Heresy to the DFRPG/Powered by GURPS stats and difficulties. That starts, well, now.

The other big thing I did was structure the creature and pre-gen templates in InDesign. This was (and will continue to be) laborious, but there’s nothing to be done about that.

In any case, here’s a preview. Starting with one of the Pre-Gen characters that will appear in the book, using the Wrestler template from Pyramid #3/111

And a sample monster, with bonus stock art from the always excellent Dean Spencer

Things may indeed shift around, but I kinda like ’em both.

This update will be quick, because I’ve got writing to do today. Plus, you know: day job.

Hall of Judgment: We passed $10K this weekend, passed the total number of backers and pre-order backers from Dragon Heresy, and that’s amazing. Keep it up! In terms of forward progress, I can say that I’m basically down to writing the encounter descriptions for the last half of the ruins, and filling out encounter details for the two bonus mini-dungeons. Glynn and I had an actual video call last night to chat about doing something cool with the mini-dungeon maps but respecting the boundaries of scope. Scope creep makes for unhappy artists, and I like my artists happy. I have two finished maps in hand, one in progress, and I need to provide sketches for the final two. After the encounter descriptions are done, it’s all mechanical conversion work: stat blocks and difficulty tests and skill level penalties. The most difficult part here will likely be doing a visually interesting but still fairly simple presentation for monsters and characters from a layout perspective; I have ideas and sketches, but I’m not an Illustrator or InDesign professional and that will be, mostly likely, a full day of pain for me. Once it’s done, though: lather, rinse, repeat. Then some final playtesting, comments, etc. I’m talking to printers and fulfillment services in the UK; I think I can manage to get “not the USA” shipping down to a flat $15 or so. That’s not spectacular, but it’s not horrible. Still working it. I don’t like $15 shipping for a $25 book, though. UK shipping from the UK would still be about $8. It’s all very complicated.

Dragon Heresy Introductory Set: I pushed the very truly final PDF to backers and the 300dpi/200MB PDF-X/1a file to the printer. I received “wet proofs” of the cover (gorgeous!) and digital proofs of specified pages (mostly outstanding; two key images were too dark for my taste and I asked them to adjust). They forgot to send me wet proofs of the color end sheets, and are rectifying that. I suspect we’ll be out of proof phase by next Monday, which means into print phase. From there, it would be a few weeks to print and validate the books. Once I finalize what is to be printed, I will need to lock down addresses and make arrangements to split the order for international backers. That’s on me, though, and I have a plan.

Venture Beyond: No link for this one (yet), but David and I had a few exciting conversations about Venture Beyond, and things are moving again. That’s good news.

Other Product: I will probably take a short breather when I get DH and HoJ finished. There are things I’ve been putting off a bit that need to happen at home. But after that, I have at least two Dragon Heresy/Etera (and maybe Norðlond?) modules to write, and one of those, The Citadel at Northwatch, has enough done on it already that it should be a fairly quick writing job. The pattern I’m using for Hall of Judgment – details about a town or towns for expanding the background, local color, and important personalities, followed by the adventure, and then a bestiary if needed, is a good outline and I intend to repeat it. I had a conversation with an old friend who reminded me of a campaign I ran a while back, and how it would be amazing as a stand-alone RPG. So it would. I’ve got at least five (including Venture Beyond) concepts or projects on the “let’s consider this” burner that are written by not-me.

Gaming Ballistic: I have to say it: with revenue from Dragon Heresy and the HoJ Kickstarters looking to be something on the order of $25,000 between the two of them, it would appear that on a single-year basis, we’re steaming towards being profitable in 2018. If DH and/or HoJ (especially DH, since I will have over 1,000 books in my basement) moves successfully into distribution, Amazon, and other vectors, that could get even better, perhaps erasing the net-negative total cash flow since GB was started. It usually takes 4-5 years for this transition, and I’m looking good for doing that on schedule. Knock on wood and all that, but 2018 feels like an inflection point. We shall see.

We hit $10,000!

I mean, the trajectory and usual Kickstarter behavior (where your last two days are about 60% of the first two days) suggested this anyway, but still, seeing it is astounding. We also surpassed the total number of backers for Dragon Heresy, my full 288-page RPG, which was 328 during the campaign itself, plus a few pre-orders. We’re at 334 as I write this, which means no matter what, we’ve passed both.

The next “can we get there” milestone is to pass Dragon Heresy in terms of funds raised, which is a higher challenge. Our first two days were astounding: $6566 raised! Then we kept up at a $440 per day rate for the next 6 days, and since then, the pledge rate has leveled to $200 per day. The final two days can be up to 70% of the first two . . . or they can be “just another day.”

That means that at the low end, the next 13 days of the campaign could bring in another $2,500 and 85 people . . . which is awesome no matter what. Or they could bring in another $7,300. Who knows! The key will be getting the word out, and that depends on you more than me.

In any case, the campaign has already been very successful, and each day makes it more so.

Printing and Shipping

I had a question come up on the SJG Forums, and I thought I’d open the kimono a bit more about where we are, and where we might go.

I have four vendors I use for printing. DriveThruRPG, Publisher’s Graphics, a UK company that does short-run, high-quality digital print (Call it Company C), and a Hong Kong company that only deals in 1000+ quantities (call them Company D).

DriveThru and PubGraphics both have online quote generators open to all. DriveThru uses Lightning Source for printing, which has a UK branch; this means “not the USA” uses Royal Mail for shipping, which is much less expensive to y’all. A full 30% of backers to this project fall into that category (double the usual!) so this is a real consideration; the lowest cost to get a package out of the US to London by USPS is about $25. Royal Mail does that for $5-6.

But printing! The basic factor here is the quality and cost per book. I find PubGraphics quality superior to DriveThru. The paper is a bit better, the binding MUCH better, and the color more vivid. They’re also roughly 2/3 the price per book, but charge a setup fee. In short, somewhere between “I order 8” and “I order 32,” it’s cheaper to order from PubGraphics even including the ridiculous shipping cost to get it out of the USA.

But I will be ordering a minimum of 200 books, because you guys are great.

Let’s hit the other extreme. I can’t order fewer than 1,000 books from Company D. So that’s a dollar amount threshold, full stop. That, however, means that I will have something like 700 books sitting in my house. If I can sell them? FANTASTIC. That’s extra revenue, and the cost per book easily supports a distribution model. That’s an additional $7,000 in revenue (with associated licensing fees to SJGames!) over time, though not front-loaded like the Kickstarter.

In the middle, between 345 orders and about 720 orders, we have Company C. Their stuff is going to arrive with much thicker paper (140gsm vs 105gsm; 93# paper vs 70# for us Americans) and still be perfect bound like DriveThru and PubGraphics. Originating in the UK means that the costs for international shipping are lower, though I will need to find a good partner to split off 30% of the orders and get them to international folks.

So where are we for printing? We’re just at the cusp of kicking over into the wide territory where Company C wins the cost/quality battle. If I wind up ordering about 50% more books than actual print backers, then once we hit 230 print backers, we upgrade to the thicker paper. At 475-480 print backers, we get the sewn binding.

I’m working now to find a good partner for this in the UK. If you know of one (a game store that also fulfills international orders at a reasonable cost, perhaps), please let me know.

Nerdarchy!

I was on Nerdarchy on Friday, and we had a good conversation. There was a lot of stuff on shields and D&D, because that’s the crowd. I tried to keep the conversation at least mildly focused on Powered by GURPS and the DFRPG, though!

Progress

Writing continues, as does map creation. I just did a quick layout trial, and the current text – with no maps or art of any sort – runs over 75 pages. Add on the “Thegn of Your Own” backers, five full-page maps, six half-page encounter maps and we’re at 88 pages with zero artwork. Given I like to put something every spread or two, if we budget a quarter-page of art every four pages you’re dealing with another five or six pages of art.

And there’s a lot of dungeon and wilderness encounters and lions, tigers, and bears, oh my yet to do. (No tigers, actually. But lions and bears play prominent roles, so there is that). “Town” itself is 18 pages long, which makes for a nice, robust starting place with lots of things to do, and good embedded culture and entry points for adventurers to explore.

So we’re definitely trending to the 96 pages or more endpoint, which is fun for a book that started at 64.

Today is a “write all day” budget, so by day’s end, hopefully I’ll have most of the prose done. That would mean the big job is converting to Powered by GURPS numbers and stats. That’s a challenge, but it’s a direct one.

So I’m going to get to it. In the meantime, a bit of “yay, team!” on social media would not go amiss.

Thanks!

This is mostly a picture dump, but overall, here are my impressions:
  • Readability is excellent. The colors came through very well.
  • The spot finish on the cover may not be fully visible in the image, but it’s awesome
  • Still going to be a pretty book

The mild criticisms. Two are on me.

  • One of the big signature images is misaligned in the borders. I can and will fix that (p. 140)
  • The Gaming Ballistic logo on the spine should get a spot finish and didn’t
  • While overall color fidelity is good, some of the details on one of the important images got obscured in the printing process due to low contrast and a bit of color mismatch.
  • I was supposed to get “wet proofs” of my end sheets, and didn’t

I’ve provided this feedback (and the following pictures) to the printer, but obviously haven’t heard back yet. I also need to do a (gulp) page-by-page inspection of the entire low-quality book block to ensure everything is good, and there are no more p. 140 surprises.

To the pix!

That’s probably good for now, but this is major progress. When I hear back on p. 238 I’ll know more about timing. More later!

GURPSDay is currently pulling from 102 blogs on the roster.

We’re well over 300% in the Hall of Judgment Kickstarter. We’ve got some exciting stuff in there as rewards, and also a podcast coming up. Beyond that, I’m writing and writing and making map art direction and doing layout. I’ve got 8700 words written about “Town,” which would be about a 20-page supplement all by itself. Plus all the pre-gens, new monsters, and three extra “dungeon” sections and the terrain-based encounters and the weather generator? I think you’ll like it.

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and its fifth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013,  a year after I started Gaming Ballistic.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPSWe still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.

Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary June 22, 2018 – June 28, 2018”