Printing Complete!

I was informed this morning that all 500 copies finished at the printer and were mailed to fulfillment on Wed Aug 22 (two days ago!). I expect that my partner in the UK will start doing their thing anywhere between yesterday and Monday. International backers will thus start seeing their stuff that following week (Aug 27-31), and even Australia should be 5-7 working days from that point.

For the USA, I expect (?) that I’ll get my boxes of books late next week. If that’s the case, I can print labels and package shipments over the Labor Day weekend when I’m not out at the MN Ren Fest dressed as a viking, and then folks should see books-in-hand by mid-September.

Nice Things Said on the Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter

I’ll just repeat it here. Note this was written by Phil Reed, and that I had no notice that nice things were going to be said until I read them myself.

Dungeon Fantasy: Hall of Judgment PDF Now on Warehouse 23!

Posted by Philip Reed
Congrats, Doug, on a fantastic job on the new Dungeon Fantasy: Hall of Judgment micro-setting and scenario. The Kickstarter campaign that you ran went as smooth as any could hope for, and at the Steve Jackson Games office, we’re proud to include your work in the Warehouse 23 catalog!

For those of you who have not yet checked out Doug’s work on the Dungeon Fantasy: Hall of Judgment supplement, now is your chance! The PDF is available at Warehouse 23, and we’re happy to report that Doug was so good to work with that we’re currently considering possible future projects that he would create under license. No decisions at the moment, but we’ll be sure to announce here if Doug produces another supplement for use with the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game.

Hall of Judgment now available on Gaming Ballistic and W23

The new adventure “Hall of Judgment” is now available for retail purchase at the Gaming Ballistic web store and on Warehouse 23 over at Steve Jackson Games.

From the blurb:

Hall of Judgment is set in the barbarian lands of the north (predictably called Norðlönd). It is designed to evoke the feeling of a nordic/viking culture without specifically invoking Norse myth and legend.

  • This product is a micro-setting and scenario for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS)
  • It features non-linear adventuring for 4-6 250-point characters
  • Explore a Viking-flavored world trekking through cold, harsh mountains, facing dangerous faerie, and searching for a lost holy place, and the priceless relics within
  • Easily portable and usable with any GURPS Fantasy campaign

The book contains:

Preface. Contains a brief discussion of the original volume and how it came to be converted to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Isfjall. The town is described in enough detail to serve as a base for further adventures.

The Journey. This section is broken out and expanded from the original volume. Random encounter tables, weather hazards, and other difficulties that arise when nature itself rises against you.

Lögheimili Ruins. A dangerous place. Full of evil it is. In you must go. A micro-dungeon! You don’t have to go in. Or come out.

Domstollinn. The core scenario. It is presented as a set of encounters that can be tackled (or not) in any order. An encounter includes a set of Challenges, telling the GM what must be overcome, Concealed information the players don’t know initially, Alternative ways to short-circuit, bypass, or otherwise not just Leroy Jenkins one’s way through a challenge, and Rewards, where appropriate.

Bestiary. Each monster that may be encountered in the scenario is given a description, statistics (including brief stats used with the Fantastic Grappling Quick-Start), and combat tactics to make each one unique. Over 30 creatures, nearly all of them new.

Fantastic Grappling Quick-Start. Even if you don’t have the book, you can still use the rules. Two pages of grappling the way it should be: fast, fun, and well-integrated with the DFRPG mechanics, using the control damage type first introduced in GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling, but refined and simplfied after years of play in multiple systems.

Pre-Gen Characters. Sixteen 250-point characters will be provided to allow the scenario to be played with minimal preparation; this adds to the excellent pre-gens already provided in the DFRPG boxed set.

All together, this is a complete adventure that can be run on its own or dropped into an existing campaign.

This will likely be the most eventful two weeks of Gaming Ballistic’s existence, as physical fulfillment begins on two core products.

Lots of things going on, all at once.

Dragon Heresy

Printing is complete. The final tally was 1,530 books printed, which is 2,219 kg of books. Two and a quarter metric tons.

Of that total, perhaps 250-300 are currently spoken for between the backers of either Dragon Heresy or Hall of Judgement, plus the comp copies for contributors.

To deal with that, I entered into an agreement with a distribution company to push the books into retail! This is exciting for me, and the terms are good. Soon, as Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches and the books are in hand, we might start seeing Dragon Heresy on store shelves.

Speaking of which I dropped by Mind’s Eye Comics here in Burnsville, and the new owner Chris and I hit it off pretty well. I suspect I’ll be a regular fixture there, as my daughter loves comic books, and enhancing the presence of gaming and comics in Burnsville, specifically the Burnsville Center Mall, seems like a win to me.

But . . . there will be one-week “get all the paperwork straight” hold, then the books will go three places. To my house (320 books), to Dice Latte in Korea for international shipments (50 books), and the balance into distribution. I will also begin the process to get things carried on Amazon.

Based on probable outcomes, I suspect everyone will have their books by mid-October. Not early, but not late. A Wizardly kind of pace, I suppose.

Hall of Judgment

As anticipated, today I got pinged by the printer in the UK about what to do about the books. I was ready, and closed the pre-orders for Hall of Judgment in Backerkit, delivered the list of “not-the-US” backers and my home address to Kixto (fulfillment company, also in the UK), and provided the required addresses and contact information to get 500 books from the UK to the UK, which really ought to be in the “not hard” category.

I will have a cost estimate by the middle of next week, and shipping should begin by the end of next week. The international books (107 books to 103 backers) will thus start their journey. Some may arrive the first week in September – there are 24 backers in the United Kingdom and there’s no real reason why Royal Mail should take that long to get things in place. Beyond that, it will be a bit of a random number generator, but most international folks should get their stuff in September.

For US backers, let’s assume it takes the better part of a week (first week of Sept) to airmail the stuff to me and then take delivery at my home; most of that is likely paperwork related, since actual travel time from fulfillment to airport to airport to my house is probably 12-24 hours. In any case, once they arrive, I’ll do the Backerkit postage thing (I’ve got my label printer all ready) and get those in the mail. From there, Media Mail is usually less than two weeks. So the US books should arrive in hand by mid-September as well.

Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr

There are perhaps 50 folks that ordered hardcopy of Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr along with the other two kickstarters. I will begin shipping all copies of these books to international backers this week. Those that ordered hardcover will get them fulfilled through DriveThruRPG premium, as that’s the best way to get it to you for not-ridiculous money.

The rest will ship out with HoJ or DH orders, packed together.

New Plans

The next move for Gaming Ballistic is to look into some new projects. I’ve already got at least four concepts being worked, and more news on that when I can say something.

Next I convert Hall of Judgment into Lost Hall of Tyr (Second Edition). This brings all of the work done on Hall of Judgment back into the Dragon Heresy fold. It converts backwards from the Dungeon Fantasy RPG and makes LHoT into a more sandboxy experience instead of the convention-style linear adventure. There are some things I have to work out – the LHoT original layout was 8.5×11, while HoJ was 8×10, for example – but once those decisions are made I should be able to convert HoJ to LHoT(2e) fairly quickly.

Anyone with a PDF of Lost Hall of Tyr (first edition) will get an upgrade for free. The new 2nd Edition upgrade will more directly support Dragon Heresy by tweaking the challenges of the adventures into the 1-5 range supported by the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.

Not sure the timeline on this, but since books are probably arriving in October, well, that seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

It was the moment I’ve been waiting for, and it arrived today. The first six copies of the fully-printed, smyth-sewn, entirely freakin’ awesome Dragon Heresy Introductory Set arrived today by FedEx.

I am utterly blown away. This is a book I think anyone would be proud to put on their shelf. Even better, to take out and play. The production values are ridiculously good. Yeah, I know, it’s my book, but wow.

I’ll put two pictures above the fold, then a bunch more below.

As I said to a backer on my Discord channel: I pulled out all the stops for this book. Every time I had a choice to make between “awesome” and “merely satisfactory” I went with awesome.

I don’t regret it one bit. Neither will you.

(If this looks like something you want on your game store shelf – and you know you do – please contact me directly and we’ll make that happen.)

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy Advance Copies Arrive!”

Just for giggles, after a quick conversation with an interested party on Facebook, I decided to see how much it would take – cost and price wise – if Gaming Ballistic were to produce a boxed set similar to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

I used an online quote generator to look at the cost of standard boxes. One thing about this: there’s usually a good correlation between availability of an online quote generator and not being the best pricing you can find. Even so, upper bound.

I looked at custom-sized boxes. No. Don’t go there. Wow. So we look at 10.5 x 10.5 x 2″ box, and find that in quantities worthy of making a boxed set (1,000-1,999) we’re dealing with about $4 each for the box itself.

Hrm. OK. Looking at prior quotes of mine, and assuming either a 96-page book or a 128-page book, with good production values in 8×10 size. Hrm. The actual production cost is about $2 per book (slightly less at 96 pages, and slightly more at $128), but the place where you get bit is shipping the books to the publisher, which itself is about a dollar per copy pretty much regardless of size.

Let’s say we need four books, averaging about 112 pages each (so right in the middle). A characters book, an action book, a technology book (let’s say we’re doing a modern action game), and a foes book (a hypothetical Bug Hunt-ish game similar to my Alien Menace campaign would need information on worlds and aliens; alien tech would have to be squeezed in somewhere too). Four books at $3 production cost each. That’s $12 for books, $4 for the box. $16 total cost. Scope creep might push that higher if the books get thicker. An extra dollar per book would say $20 total cost.

So to survive a distribution model, that means a price tag of $80-100 for a “complete setting and rules set in a box” that would be a slimmer, books-only thing comparable to the DFRPG. No dice, nothing that can’t itself be sold as a book with an ISBN on it for Reasons (taxes, inventory, etc; “books” or “collections of books” are exempt from VAT in many places, but throw not-books in there and you make things more challenging).

Interesting. If the fan base would groove on it ($80-100 is still less than the three comparable books at full retail for DnD5e, and about what you can get the three books for at Amazon – $88 all told) it seems like a viable option.

The costs to produce it would be high. To get component prices in the right ballpark, you’re dropping about $16-20 x 1500 sets: $24,000-30,000 right there. You’re also notionally making about 400-500 pages of material, and PDF development costs as I’ve noted are $100-150 per page. So $40,000 to as high as $75,000 to make the thing. Total spread of production costs: $65,000-105,000.

Even at $100 per box, that’s 650-1050 backers required to get there.

That’s still a big lift. Not insane, but not yet proven: my best-ever crowdfunding has drawn about 550 paying customers. I’d need to double that, which means a very large interested mailing list. Probably double or triple what I have now.

Still . . . not out of possibility. But not right now.

PDF Distribution

The (digital) moment has arrived: check your email boxes for a note from Backerkit, because the PDF file for Hall of Judgment has been given approval for distribution.

Thank you all so much for coming along with me this far!

The file as distributed is exactly what the print copy will look like. Hopefully we’ve caught most/all of the major errata, but there always seems to be a few that slip through.

Such errors can be corrected in PDF, obviously, but not print.

Haven’t ordered it yet, but want to? Hit Hosted Pre-Orders on Backerkit and get in on the first print run.

Print Schedule

The print file sailed through pre-production, and printing and binding is expected to be complete by August 22.

That’s a Wednesday, which means Thursday will see the books nipped over to my fulfillment partner in the UK, and international books should be in the mail that Friday. Backers in the UK could thus see their print copies the following week, still within August, which makes me happy.

The US copies and surplus inventory will head over to Minnesota by airmail, which means that I could be packing and mailing them the following week, assuming no delays at customs (and airmail makes that easier, ironically: less, and less-expensive, paperwork, apparently). So either later that same week, or within the two weeks thereafter (mid-September), all physical copies should be in hand.

Map Files

I will also be pushing out some VTT-scale map files. These were made available for the Lost Hall of Tyr distribution, and will also be made available with 1-yd hex overlays (for programs with built-in maps, I’ll provide a pixels-per-yard conversion).

The maps from ENnie Gold Medalist Cartographer Glynn Seal (he loves saying that, so I figured I’d repeat it) will also be made available. The large-area maps in PDF with a GM-layer for extra info, and the Logiheimli map in 72dpi with a pixels-per-yard conversion as well (though the scale is wide enough that “yards per pixel” is possible but unlikely.

Next Steps

After a deep breath to recover my balance after a long sprint to finish both this and Dragon Heresy, the Eye of Sauron will turn to what’s next. I’ve got ideas for more DFRPG stuff, and more, depending on what SJG wants to consider. More on that later.

I also will compile, after shipping of the physical product, the “where did the money go?” report, likely for both Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment, since they’ll finish at roughly the same time. I feel that’s an important part of Kickstarter fulfillment for projects that wouldn’t exist without your backing. Kickstarter can’t use the “I” word, but no matter what you want to call it, you guys are important Stakeholders in Gaming Ballistic thanks to your participation in this and other projects, and you deserve to know what happened on this project so that you can understand both the past and the future.

For now . . . thank you. For later: there’s more coming.

I sent Hall of Judgment preliminary files to the printer

They were accepted first try, as “ready to print.”

I expect that I’ll hear back from the printing liaison today, since it’s mid-afternoon in the UK, and we can make plans to get things moving forward. But I think that means the clock on printing has started.

Still waiting on final ship approval as folks get settled and Return from Gencon (with associated Con Crud expected, if you’ve been to one of those). But things are nipping along well.

Just a reminder: if you’re interested in a physical copy of the book, and you don’t live in the USA, the very best time to order it is right now, as shipping will only be this cheap if there’s enough back-order for me to get a reprint from not-the-USA. Sure, one day I’ll have POD copies available, but odds are they won’t be as good, as most POD tops out at 105gsm/70# paper for one (the book as ordered uses 140gsm/93# silk-coated paper), and are much, much more expensive to print, for another.

So, this should be an interesting week.

For one thing, I really don’t have much on my plate from a “writing games” perspective. This is the first time in about four months that this has happened, since Dragon Heresy was immediately (and I do mean right away) followed by Hall of Judgment.

Both are basically done, and out of my hands until it comes time for shipping. Even then, except for the day(s) printing postage and/or actually boxing up hundreds of books, I have those hours back. I’m about to go to sleep before midnight for the first time in a long time that didn’t involve sickness or simply collapsing from exhaustion.

Where do we stand?

Dragon Heresy PDF is long since shipped out. Not much response from it thus far; I hope that changes when the physical books arrive, and folks dig in and really read it. The changes to the base 5e SRD are somewhat simple, but provide a great deal of emergent behavior that everyone from GURPS players to OSR fans to 5e aficionados to Pathfinder folks should like.

This week should see the arrival by FedEx of the final signature, which I sent back for corrections. That was on my end, not theirs, so that delay is on me, but I saw a mistake (some formatting) and I fixed it. After that, I’ll give permission to print and bind, and then in a week or two I’ll start seeing advanced copies and basically be ready to give ship approval. About 30 copies will go out to backers of both the DH kickstarter and the HoJ one who live in “not the USA,” and the rest – about 1,470 of them – will come to my house, and about 250 (ish) will then depart for places here in the USA and Puerto Rico. Last week in September or first two weeks in October. So “on time,” if not “ahead of schedule.” Alas.

Also, within about 12-36 hours I should hear back from the Hall of Judgment printer in the UK about pre-press. I’ve paid my deposit (via PayPal! Yay! No wire transfers or certified checks) so I am as current with that vendor as I can be, and if they say “oh, yeah, these files work” I’ll give the go-ahead for printing, which means in about 3-4 weeks they’ll be done, and then another 2-3 weeks to get them sorted out and shipped and received. So really, all these books for both KS will arrive effectively simultaneously.

I’m very proud of both books. For one, they’re very, very pretty. For another, I think they’re legit good work.

But now I need more to do. Fortunately, I do not lack for options. If nothing else, I need to convert Hall of Judgment into Lost Hall of Tyr, 2nd Edition. Then it will be the adventure it needs to be.

More on that later.

Fold and Gather samples for Dragon Heresy are here!

So, it’s one thing to look at individual pages. It’s one thing to look at a PDF on the screen.

It’s quite another to get the entire book very nearly as it will appear in my hands.

Without further blather on my part: pictures.

OK: one bit of blather. I cannot wait for the proofs and finals to be ready. This is going to be a book of which folks take notice. And y’all made it happen.

Lots more pictures below the break…

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Fold and Gather samples arrived. Wow.”

Pre-Final File!

Today I finished what I like to call the “pre-final” PDF.

What does that mean?

  • It’s got a front and back cover
  • My proofreaders and testers comments, as well as my own “print it out and go over it with pen in hardcopy” edits, are in
  • It passes muster at 300dpi for printing
  • It’s the right page count
  • It should be fully playable (a word on maps in a moment)

What’s not done?

  • I will be updating the backer list in the PDF until y’all stop telling me to change your names. I will be downloading and comparing your KS names and Backerkit survey responses to help me with this
  • I will be compiling an index. If this fits on one page, we’re REALLY done and I don’t have to delete any monsters or change layout. If it needs two, I will consolidate ulfjarl and wolf to one page and give it two
  • If y’all catch anything truly wrong (and not just “I’d have done it differently”) I will be able to make changes for the next week
  • Hyperlinks for internal references
  • Final ToC update

Lockdown and Cards Charged

I’ve done the first round of “lockdown” and charged cards for those backers that finished their survey. That means that if you ordered PDFs of my other game products, they’re awaiting your download!

I am going to send out the preview file for HoJ tomorrow, for folks to read over the weekend and tell me where I done them wrong (say that like Scarlett Johansson from Ultron). Then I’ll fix that, get final blessings from SJG, and if that’s all good, the final file will be pushed to you guys on August 1.

Then also on August 1, I will send the file to the printer, beginning the cycle for physical product delivery. As I’ve noted before, I expect that to take 5-7 weeks.


The maps in the PDF and book are, frankly, too small to use.

No worries. I will be preparing PDFs and other digital files that will have GM-only and player-eyes-OK versions for import into VTTs (the digital maps come in 32×40″ files with grid files with 1-yd hexes OR 5-ft squares, your choice). Those will go out over the next few days as well. I understand how important maps are to play, and will do my best to make that as convenient as possible given my source material.

This is not the end . . . actually it IS the beginning of the end.

With mad props to Winston, this begins the process of giving you what I promised. It’s on time rather than ahead of schedule, and the upgrade in print quality does mean physical product will hit in September rather than August.

But the first third-party release for the DFRPG is about to be in your hands. I’m thrilled, and I hope you are too.

Now: play it. Write about it. And tell me what you want to do next.

I’m all ears.

Douglas Cole
Gaming Ballistic, LLC
July 26, 2018