I hope y’all have been waiting for this day as I have. But I have locked down those who responded to the survey (all but 17 of y’all) and distributed files to those folks. I will next examine those that have not filled out their survey . . . and if it looks like things are in order for the transfer from Kickstarter and that each of these folks will get what they asked for during the campaign proper, I will release those as well.

As such, 225 people should have received their digital files, or at least an email saying that they’re ready for download. Some of the files are very large, as one would expect from such graphically intensive work.

So, the countdown begins. Please read, inspect, and ask questions, and post your comments in this blog post.

Yes, this one, please!

In any case, read it, play it, let me know what you find. If there are errata (and there always are), please post them to the blog thread, and Todd and I will see what we can do.

Note that an erratum is something like a typo or grammar error. Things that are preferences or suggestions can only be entertained if they don’t break layout, and will be given a somewhat gimlet eye even then: the purpose is to finish the work, after all!

Thank you so much for coming along with me on this journey. I appreciate your faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Douglas Cole

Gaming Ballistic, LLC

Just a very quick update.

Todd rocks. He’s done everything that needs doing for the prelim release. This means three things.

  1. I will be locking down everyone that’s submitted their survey between 3pm and 5pm on November 24th.
  2. Everyone that has ordered digital files – Lost Hall, Dungeon Grappling, The Manor Collection, and Bogie’s Map Pack should be able to download it that day. All files that will be distributed have already been uploaded to Backerkit’s digital distribution hub.
  3. I submitted Lost Hall for a preliminary proof hard copy a few days ago. The files are in prep; hopefully I’ll be able to order the hardcopy Real Soon Now, or receive word of changes.

What might those changes be? Usually something with bleed (stuff that runs over the place where the pages are trimmed) or Total Ink Coverage. If the colors in an image are too dark, they can flake or not stick. That happened to me before with CreateSpace (which is why I’m not going with them at all this time around).

But if the files are approved and the proof looks good, I’ll let y’all know and then start a 10-day countdown clock. That’s when you guys can read your digital files and let me know if I missed anything.

Then Todd and I will make final changes, submit those files to the two printers, and start the clock ticking on orders. I find it likely – but not certain – that folks will start to get physical copies of Lost Hall and Dungeon Grappling in January. February at the latest.

Ironically, because printing through DriveThru/Lightning Source through the UK has a lot of print volume behind it, my international backers are very likely to get their product before my domestic backers. I will keep everyone informed of exactly where we are in the process though.

Again: mad props to Todd, John, Juan, Gerasimos, Michael, Rick, and Cornelia for meeting or beating all deadlines laid before them, which allowed production to go as smoothly as it has (to date, anyway). We’ve done very well, schedule-wise, and that kind of performance requires a great team.

What is GURPSDay?

GURPSDay is something that started as a bit of a lark in February 2013. I somewhat off-the-cuff decided that Thursday is “GURPSDay” and from there, started ensuring every Thursday, I had a GURPSy post going on.

Other folks got in on the act (or were already posting lots more than me about GURPS, but joined in on the Thursday thing).

Later – much later – Phil Reed apparently got wind of the GURPSDay thing, and wondered out loud about it. That resulted in this Daily Illuminator post (and to be fair, Sean and I are long-time friends, and since he was one of the first interviews I did on Gaming Ballistic’s Firing Squad, he knew about the blog and my Thursday thing).

Then Jeffro Johnson helped me out, and wrote a PERL script that trolled RSS feeds and pulled in and formatted different posts, including a nifty Precis feature that allows commentary to be embedded in the post. Merlin Avery then improved the script in ways that are beyond my ken, but made it much more likely to successfully import RSS feeds from various platforms. He is a ridiculously accomplished code Jedi.

In any case, that’s where GURPSDay really took off, since the import and formatting of the content was automatic. To date, I now have 92 blogs on the roll, and we pick up one every few weeks.

Everyone Can Play

GURPSDay includes some real ringers. Christopher R. Rice (Ghostdancer on the GURPS Forums) effectively owns Pyramid magazine, he’s published there so much (deposit a thousand dollars, and the bank owns you; deposit a billion dollars and you own the bank). Peter Dell’Orto, ToadKillerDog and the author of GURPS Martial Arts and winner of the Dungeon Fantastic prize for elucidating the Principle of Conservation of Ninjitsu is there too. Lots of other GURPS authors – such as the inimitable Hans-Christian Vortisch (High-Tech, Tactical Shooting, Gun Fu) are on there.

Some aren’t (or aren’t yet) GURPS authors, but post amazing content nearly every day. Some post less frequently . . . but the script doesn’t care. If you post that week, it gets scooped up.

How do you get on the list? Just email me and ask. The note in every GURPSDay post says:

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.

That is sincerely meant. If you write about GURPS, or want to, start up a blog and have at it. Or contact me or one of the others known to host Guest Posts until you’re comfortable doing it on your own.

Is all I need is your blog name, the name you want to be credited under (some, like myself, use their real names; others use pseudonyms), the RSS feed for your blog, and the blog address.

The two most common blog platforms are Blogger (a bit more editing-friendly) and WordPress (less WYSIWYG, but can more easily be turned into your own domain and can host eCommerce natively). The script likes both of them pretty well.

Write Here, Write Now

GURPS is resurgent these days. From the Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed set to now being available to millions of customers on DriveThruRPG and other affiliates, there has never been a better time to investigate and play the system.

The community is vibrant if occasionally fractious . . . pretty much like every internet community everywhere. There are some truly helpful folks on there, who if approached with any reasonable degree of civility will bend over backwards to help you out.

Oh, did I mention those people include the Line Editor, Sean “Dr Kromm” Punch, and his plucky sidekick Jason “PK” Levine, the Assistant Line Editor? That some of the most prolific authors will engage in nearly any constructive conversation on powers, world-building, how to run a “rules-light” GURPS game, or how to prune away the monstrous amount of material that could be used into just the right amount of material that you need?

It’s a great group of folks, for the most part. And if you have something to say about GURPS on any sort of regular and constructive basis . . . I want to include you in the blog roll.

And to the existing 92 bloggers: WRITE MORE. 

The Lost Hall post-campaign goings-on still go on, and they are going strong.

Backerkit, Huzzah!

This one’s all on y’all. So far, in one day, about 60% of backers have filled out the surveys. This is good. I’d like everyone to do it, of course, but if you are one of the 115 backers that expects to receive Lost Hall of Tyr or Dungeon Grappling as a physical product, I must have your shipping address, and I’d very much like it through Backerkit.

I’m also quite gratified at the number of you guys that are electing to procure some of the cool Add-Ons that are available. I’ll note that the Manor Collection is a great deal, and if you’re an OSR fan, you’ll dig it completely. Dan’s map collection is very cool, and if you play via VTTs you’ll appreciate being able to drop in a new encounter at short notice.

Stythja Still Available

Just a shout-out for this one. The top-tier pledge was the styðja, or patron level. It features the following three things:

  • The opportunity to generate a character that will effectively be a “pre-gen” for Lost Hall
  • The character will be visualized as an epic figure by one of the artists who worked on the project.
  • Finally, part of this process is a preview of the Character Generation, Races, and Classes chapters of Dragon Heresy, my forthcoming SRD5.1 full RPG.

Here’s a peek inside:

I can tell you I had a lot of fun with these, and there’s a lot more in there than just what appears in the SRD. History, different takes on the races and classes, entirely new clerical domains based on Norse mythology, new abilities and fighting styles, and more. I can tell you this: shields are going to get way cooler.

It’s still a work in progress . . . but there’s been a lot of progress and playtesting, so while it’s not perfect, it will give a feel that captures the kinds of characters that will fit easily into the world of Etera, and provide what I hope is an exciting glimpse of what’s to come.

I will be contacting those that have elected the Styðja character levels shortly after the Backerkit phase ends and distributing the required digital files at that time. The PDF collection of characters thus created will be available prior to April 2018, as promised in the Kickstarter rewards section.

Production Progress

Todd emailed me what looks to be the final file (maybe one change pending), and I’ve approved it. This means that he can start building the Table of Contents as well as hyperlinking the document.

The result of his hard work, and the excellent responsiveness of the editing and art teams, is that unless something drastically horrendous happens, the penultimate version of the digital product will be in your hands within the week after the Backerkit phase closes.

As noted in the prior update, two things happen during this phase. Firstly, I send the files to my two print vendors for proofs (actually, this is likely to start happening this week or next). Just as importantly, you guys review the heck out of your document and find what we missed. There’s always something. Check spelling, clarity, and layout issues. Test all the hyperlinks. Head to the blog post on Gaming Ballistic’s website and leave a comment in the thread that will be started for the purpose and I’ll update the “Errata” list with notes on whether we can accommodate the request. Feel free to suggest other hyperlinks that you feel will be useful.

Map Pack

The maps for the adventure are provided as 8.5×11 full pages in the back of the adventure. They are also provided at a lower (more screen compatible) resolution of about 200dpi, and are 32″ x 40″ in size at that scale. They will come as a compressed file of JPEGs so they can be pulled into your Virtual Table Top program of choice, or you can have them printed as posters or anything else.

They are full color, and have no grids or scales on them, so that for those that do use the VTT’s native grid functions, you don’t get the case where either you can’t quite match up the map grid with the program grid, or for folks like me that like hexes, have to deal with a hex overlay on a square grid.

I am working with Bogie maps on a few fun extras to make choosing between grid options easy, but no word on those yet.

Endgame and Next Projects

So that’s where we are. Thanks for coming with me so far, and please do take advantage of the “share” functions of the various forums. Give the project a re-share from Kickstarter or Backerkit. Even better, throw down a nice comment or two on the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, or the various DnD-flavored groups or RPG forums.

This won’t be my last product. I expect that within the month I’ll take delivery of a 115,000-word manuscript for a completely original Sci-Fi game that I cannot wait to get started on, which includes core rules and three short scenarios. If that goes well, the author has 27 more adventures ready to go.

And of course there’s Dragon Heresy, and I hope that I’ve convinced you that I have the project management chops to deliver even a very large project on time. The only reason that one isn’t out already is that I want to do the same quality job with it that I have done (says me) on Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr. That means art . . . and lots of it. The Dragon Heresy draft that went to Ken Hite (yes, that Ken Hite) for editing was roughly 400,000 words, or approximately 800 pages in 3 volumes. I’ll need anywhere from 200 to 400 pieces of art to do it how I want . . . and that requires a very successful campaign.

When it comes time, I hope you’ll help me with that.

Until then, back to the wilds of production for me!

Last night Kickstarter processed the funds for the campaign – everyone’s payments cleared but one, which is a darn good percentage.

This morning, I sent out the Backerkit surveys. Each of you should have received an email as follows:

“Thank you for supporting the Lost Hall of Tyr Kickstarter!

The primary goal of the survey is to collect shipping and email information so that we can get you your physical and digital rewards. There are also a few “marketing and interest” related questions that I would love to get feedback on so that I can better tailor products to suit, and improve Gaming Ballistic’s customer experience as the company grows.

Thanks for your pledge, and for your time!”

I actually wound up dispensing with the marketing survey part, because you were forced to answer the questions, and I wanted minimum fuss.

In any case, you’ll be asked if you want your physical copies, if any, signed. You’ll go to a page that has pre-added your rewards, and you’ll either show a shipping fee, or possibly a credit if you pledged more than your reward.

You can add stuff if you like, and allocate your money or even buy more if you decide (for example) that you want several physical copies or that you want one or more of the custom characters. In that case you’ll be asked to pay the balance.

The Backerkit phase will run until November 24th. Then it’ll close down and that’s it.

Pre-orders are also open! This means that folks can order Lost Hall, and just for simplicity, they can do so at the Kickstarter discount. Retail price of the PDF will be $10; Print will be $20, and the bundle of both will be $25 . . . so if you have friends that want in, send them to the Pre-Orders Page!

Progress Update

So . . . I don’t want to jinx things. But Todd and I expect to finish the final PDF within a couple of days. That means in all probability, the PDF will be ready to distribute the day the Backerkit phase closes.

So digital distribution of Dungeon Grappling (if you ordered it) and Lost Hall (why you’re here) will occur on Nov 25 or so.

However! That won’t be the final file. I’ll be ordering proofs for print copies, and you guys will have a week or two to read the digital file, ask questions, and point out errors. If you find any, we’ll note them in a spreadsheet that I’ll maintain on my blog, Gaming Ballistic.

Once that’s done and I like the print file look, I will incorporate any clarifications or fixes that don’t break the layout that the backers notice, submit and order final files, and order print copies. Then I’ll order International copies from DriveThru, and take delivery at my home of the US orders, pack ’em up, and ship ’em out.

So . . . things are looking good in terms of schedule.

Schedule

This is just a reminder of some administrative dates and estimates for the Lost Hall campaign.

The Kickstarter funds usually take “about two weeks” to settle, which means some time between today and something like Monday or Tuesday (Nov 13-14), everyone’s cards or other payment options will be charged.

As soon as that happens, I will make the Backerkit process live. A link will go out and your balance from your pledge will transfer over. Your reward amount is usually automatically added, and you might have a balance if you upped your pledge for add-ons.

Regardless of that balance, you will then pick the add-ons you want, and the shipping charges for your reward level will also be added. That final total will be charged at the end of the Backerkit portion – which is also where I’ll get the address information and a few other things.

The Backerkit portion will go until November 24.

Once that closes, I will start the process of assembling “lists” or “segments” for digital and physical distribution. If you bought a PDF copy of Dungeon Grappling, you’ll get that immediately.

Lost Hall Final Layout and Proofing

I’m pleased to say all the final art assets are in my hands, and Todd showed me a preliminary final layout yesterday. We’re not done by any stretch, but things are strong.

The way I did Dungeon Grappling, and the way I’ll do this campaign, is that when we have a final PDF, we’ll distribute it to backers, and then order proof copies of the product from the two printers we’ll be using. Getting proofs (physical ones) can take several weeks.

During that period, I’d ask for your feedback. It’ll be entered into a spreadsheet like this one, and I will discuss with Todd which if any changes can be accommodated. The only ones that can go in at that point are things that don’t break the layout. Reasonable requests will be accommodated, but at that point we’re mostly checking clarity, typography, and grammar.

Add-On Highlights

I’m pleased to report that Bogie Maps (Dan Roy) has completed all the maps for the add-on map pack. Some samples below:

 

 

There are three more as well, and you’ll be able to see them when the Backerkit goes live.

The other two add-ons are a excellent collection of OSR zines by my friend Tim Shorts, and of course Dungeon Grappling, which is available in both PDF and Print+PDF.

We’re coming down to the end, and things are going very well at this point. I’m much farther along than even for the Dungeon Grappling project, and that one delivered substantially ahead of schedule.

It’s my practice to be pretty transparent about the cost to make my games. So, with no further ado, here’s the end-of-project view on “where will the money go?” for Lost Hall of Tyr which funded at about 200% on Kickstarter.

Writing and Editing

The basic cost to write the book and make it readable. These are almost always “per word” charges, and will typically range from 0.03 to 0.10 per word depending on the writer and editor’s rates. John is very public about his rates – they’re published on his website at 0.03 to 0.05 per word; my own assumed writing fees are 0.05 per word.

As such, writing and editing show a total cost of $1,540.

Layout and Art

Layout and Art are the bulk of any project’s cost in my experience. Of course, one of my goals is to make a book that’s awesome to look at as well as great fun to play. The components of “art” in this book include the Cover, Interior Art, Layout, and Maps.

Layout was done by Todd, and in this case, we worked out a fixed rate in advance. Which honestly wasn’t enough and he’ll be getting more money than we initially agreed due to scope creep and iteration.

Maps and Interior art pay by the piece, with the artist setting their own rate and I either say “yes, I accept” or “no, thanks.” I never dicker with the artist over what they want to charge (well, that’s not true; I’ve several times paid more than what the artist quotes).

Total art, layout, and art direction for Lost Hall: $3,500

Printing and Shipping

These will float a bit until I actually know the real numbers, but approximately 114 physical copies were procured by the Kickstarter. I’ll probably order another 25 to act as physical inventory for myself to fulfill future orders through my website.

Shipping costs are variable, but mostly will be about five to eight dollars each. Call it about six.

So printing and shipping the books should run about $1,550 in round numbers.

Management (and Marketing!)

There are many bits of project management that come up in running a Kickstarter or publishing project of any size. Done well, they blend into the background and seem effortless and worthless. Done poorly, they result in crap projects, ill will with the creative team, and late or unfulfilled Kickstarters.

The two areas that really hit here are overall project management (including contracting) and Art Direction.

Marketing is something that really should be a line item as well, but right now, it’s just “post a lot on social media” and I handle that myself as well, so I haven’t figured out what to charge for it: I lump it in with Project management.

Art Direction involves hiring the artists, contracting, deciding the base composition for each piece, and nudging the process along. Because that’s subsumed into “project management,” and it’s all me, it’s also (like writing and project management and marketing) something I budget for but don’t include in my Kickstarter basic goals.

The two together are estimated at about $1,100.

Total Costs for Lost Hall of Tyr

So there you have it:

  • Text Content: $1,540
  • Graphic Content: $3,500
  • Print and Ship: $1,550
  • Management/Admin: $1,100

Total Cost: $7,690

If we subtract the fees I might charge for my own work (writing, management) and shipping (because it’s a pass-through done in Backerkit), we’re left with about $5,000 in out-of-pocket expenses to make the book.

It was another good experience, though, and the final product is going to be fun to play and very attractive. As always, your feedback on what you liked about both the product and the Kickstarter (planning, execution, and eventual delivery) are appreciated!

We passed the finish line last night with $4,055 pledged, which is a nice place to be.

In the next few days, I’ll be sending out a few emails letting you guys know a few things.

  • First, it’s my practice to really show you where the money’s going. I’ll post a complete financial cost/revenue update shortly.
  • I will also get Backerkit spun up. They will be handling my surveys, shipping cost estimates, etc.
  • Todd and I will be working layout and incorporating all of the existing and pending art assets into the book, which will rapidly move from “working” to “proof copy.”
  • The day the funds settle in Kickstarter, everyone who pledged for PDF copies of Dungeon Grappling will get them, no waiting. If you choose to add more in backerkit, you’ll get those at the end of the Backerkit period, which will last maybe 10-14 days – this will move quickly so I can close it and get you your stuff quickly.
  • Finally, the folks that pledged at the Stythja level will be contacted shortly and we’ll start making characters and I’ll send you your Dragon Heresy race/class preview packet.
  • Stythja levels will be available as Backerkit options, for what it’s worth – if you change you mind and really want a level 4-7 character as a pre-gen, with the writeup and illustration, it’s not too late.

For now, a deep breath, and a mustering of energy to sprint to the finish.

Thanks to everyone that made this happen!

We had a fantastic day yesterday, and the weekend in general was wonderful. We pushed well past the original $3,500 stretch goal (though that’s now irrelevant because we’re getting that anyway) and there’s still 15 hours to go – the campaign closes at 10pm CST.

As we head into the final hours, a reminder:

  • Gaming Ballistic will handle PoD printing through PubGraphics. I’ve raved about their qualitybefore.
  • It will of course be made available on DriveThruRPG
  • It will have Swords and Wizardry support baked in, with conversion notes either in boxes or sprinkled through the rules as appropriate
  • It will probably still feature maps as art in a few places, but I’ll have to look at the final economics of the entire thing and see.

So that’s it – spread the word and let’s see if we can have a great last day!

If you haven’t pledged: the Lost Hall of Tyr is waiting to be found!

 

I had a brainstorm last night, and realized that (no surprise) I was over-thinking the conversion of Lost Hall of Tyr to Swords and Wizardry.

As a result, I will be including conversion notes for S&W players in the release of the game. No stretch goal required, just added utility.

This will definitely take two forms:

  1. A short monster stat block will provided as a boxed text in what used to be white space in the Bestiary with the simplified stats required to run the creature with the S&W rules.
  2. Guidance is provided on how to finesse skill tests from 5e into attribute rolls for OSR games . . . assuming that the GM doesn’t just say “player skill!” and wave that all away.

How to incorporate the S&W dungeon grappling concepts is a bit of a work in progress. I may provide a one-page PDF handout for that, since it’s simpler than the 5e version.

So, if the OSR is your thing, you have more reason to back the project or perhaps even increase your pledge!