Hey team, it’s Monday, so it’s time for another update.

Lots of preproduction work is headed into the final stages. Right now, the entire book is assembled, and is undergoing proofreading. Lots of small glitches being found by the team, which is understandable in a work this long.

Layout wise, Michael did his style unification pass, and helped clean up some stragglers. Some running titles got fixed, the ToC and Index now are ordered properly. All the boxes use the same style, that sort of thing.

Artwork is proceeding, and as the commissions come in I’m slotting them into their respective spaces. I’m using some stock art to fill in some of the blanks and I’m fairly happy with where the art density is going to wind up.

Last week I sent a wire transfer to the printer securing the order for 1,500 copies of Dragon Heresy with a 40% deposit. I also finished the cover and submitted that for checking.

If it’s accepted, they’ll start the quality control on the cover, which will involve some “wet proofs” where they actually MAKE the cover.

Hopefully I’ll have all my first-round commissioned art in by the end of this week, and then I’ll finish inserting that, see what spaces I have left, and check the budget. After the files go out, I’ll do first a preliminary and then a final accounting for you guys of “where did the money go?” so that you can see the disposition of project funds.

Shields

A quick note on the top-tier rewards. Three of the five shields have been delivered. Of the last two, one requires some special wood. That being said, here are some fun images:

Backerkit

There are still (only!) four people with physical copies of the books that need to fill out surveys for shipping, and I’ll be sending them personal nudges.

Otherwise, most cards are charged, most money is in, and the names for the backer list are going to get cross-checked this week.

I’ve also started to send out files for those that got PDF copies of certain add-ons. The Bogie Map pack and Guardians files went out today. Lost Hall will go out Real Soon Now and likewise with Dungeon Grappling – I’m going to take the opportunity to make a few errata fixes in the files before they go out.

Target Dates

As is my habit, here are the dates I’m shooting for:

  • June 9: Primary “Wave 1” art all in and in the book
  • June 16: All art complete
  • June 16: All proofing complete
  • June 17: Interior files submitted to printer
  • June 18: PDF of Dragon Heresy distributed; Dungeon Grappling Distributed; Lost Hall of Tyr distributed
  • Sept 10: Giant box of books arrives in MN
  • Oct 10: all rewards arrived

It’s not as far ahead of schedule as I prefer, but I’ve never done an offset print run, and as the last 10 minutes of the campaign showed, my needs changed at the last minute!

That’s where we stand. I’ll do what I can to pull in the schedule where possible, but a lot of it isn’t in my hands!

Where We Stand

A quick Kickstarter status update this Memorial Day.

The Dragon Heresy is at 283 pages of a 288 page allowance. That means that there’s room to play with things if I have to, and if we come down to the final moment and I still have that left, I may well add a few backgrounds to the existing list to pad it out.

I chose a printer and will be sending them their initial payment this week, probably tomorrow, but there’s no rush here. We’re doing GREAT for schedule thus far; I’d love to keep it that way.

Note that “the home stretch” is something like three months long, due to shipping schedules. Still – it is the home stretch. It’s just a long one.

Art Status

I have seen sketches for many of the items, and several final items have been submitted. That’s not bad considering there are still two weeks until the art deadline. Right now the monster section is still in need of some pieces.

Layout and Editing Status

The indexing and ToC are complete and reasonably sensible. Some of the entries suffer from an excess of vagueness. Etera is followed by dozens of page references with no context, for example. I’m not sure that’s terribly useful. I’d rather look for the two or three IMPORTANT subtopics and hit those explicitly than just two dozen page numbers.

For editing, the page count and subject matter is done with the first pass. Now it’s a massive spell-check, typo-check, and grammar check. Ensuring that all sentences make sense, no missing words or phrases, etc. This is a word-for-word read with an eye for detail.

The last thing that really needs doing is putting in hyperlinks for references. I’m a bit bummed that there doesn’t SEEM to be a way of automatically linking the index pages as bookmarks, but I’m not done looking yet. The ToC bookmarks work fine. I suppose if you’re in Interactive mode you can just search or go to the right page. So really it’s the cross-references that need doing. I’ll take care of that.

The only other layout task is style unification That should really take care of it. Other than art, proofing, and the index topic tweak – especially proofreading – we’re ready to go to print. If we can get the layering and the hyperlinks/references in place, we’re ready for final PDF distribution.

As I noted: things are looking strong. I will push a penultimate file next week – probably next Sunday. Since I will be ordering 1,500 books, and only shipping out 250 of them or so, it’s important to me to catch all the typos I can, and as backers, you can help me with that. Digital files are easy to update with typo fixes. Print copies . . . not so much.

Shields

Six backers pledged for shields. One has his already. Two more are in the final stages, and may well be finished today, certainly by the end of the week. The final three I’ll start on soon; I need to get the proper size poplar for one of the shields, and the other is already laid up as a blank. Those were promised in October along with the print books; safe to say that they’ll be in everyone’s hands by the end of June.

Finishing Up

That’s really looking like it. I pushed through the Backerkit closure yesterday, as promised. there are still about 3-4 folks pending settlement of funds/cards, and I’ll gently ping you privately over the next few days.

The remainder is really just following through with finalization of the PDF and getting the print files – cover and interior – off to the printer. Then y’all won’t see/hear much for a few weeks at a time, as the QC process goes through a few stages of proofing and approvals, with the process designed to have the books “on the boat” six weeks after I submit the files, which I’m targeting for June 16. They’re designed to show up in MN five or six weeks after THAT, which will be the week of Sept 3-7 if things go well.

US Media Mail usually takes about two weeks after that, maximum. So print copies should be in folks’ hands by Sept 22.

International Backers will follow a slightly different path. When the books are done, a few 10-book boxes will be shipped to Korea. That’ll take about a week. Then the fine folks at Dice Latte will put them in the post to all of the “not-the-USA” destinations. Depending on the speed of that method, it’s possible that they’ll arrive before the US books even show up on my doorstop. We shall see – this is a bit of an adventure for me as well.

This page is a placeholder for reported errata and requests for clarification or wording changes for the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set. The PDF files were pushed out May 14!

The Ground Rules

First off, the basic book from the first page to p. 173 is basically edited, laid out, and ready for art insertion. So any “please change X to Y” requests cannot break the layout. So if you’re asking for a rephrase, if it doesn’t fit, I either will change it to make it fit or I can’t do it at all.

For Foes, p. 174 through p. 292, we are in dire need of a 4-page haircut. I expect I know from where this will come; 2-3 pages likely from the editing process, and then we’ll tighten up Beasts a bit.

Yeah. About those Beasts. Luke Campbell is extremely passionate about animals and their capabilities. He wrote the section, and tried to include every bit of game-relevant detail, some of it much more so than a 5e-based game would usually provide. If you cast speak with animals and want to read the bad guys’ secret plans, you need to pick the right creature. This section goes perhaps overboard on that, but overboard is easy to cut. Suggestions welcome.

The character sheet at the end of the book is not form-fillable. It’s on my list.

But basically, if requesting/identifying an opportunity for change, I need the following in your comment:

  1. The page number and location of the issue
  2. The entire original text you want changed, with From: “blah, blah, bitty bitty blah, I’m stuffy give me a scone.”
  3. The substitute text you want to be in its place, as follows: To: “blah blah bitty blah, I’m so stuffy give me a scone.”
  4. A quick note why you want the change. “The information you have is a quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and was misquoted.

For some things, it might be as simple as:

p. 1234; Section on “impaling and dismemberment”

From: dismbemerment

To: dismemberment

Why: typo

Reported Issues List

p. 8; Section on Wound Maximum, third and fourth paragraphs.

The first sentence of each paragraph (“Strength Modifier.” and “Size Multiplier.” respectively) should be bolded.

p. 17; paragraph on “Aldurverk”, second and third sentences.

From: To become an adult, a dwarf must kvoldomurstrate
a skill through an aldurverk, or “age project.” Adurverks may
be crafting of weapons or armor, creating works of literature
or magic, or kvoldomurstration of martial prowess.

To: To become an adult, a dwarf must demonstrate
a skill through an aldurverk, or “age project.” Adurverks may
be crafting of weapons or armor, creating works of literature
or magic, or demonstration of martial prowess.

Why: Likely a find-and-replace error (“demon” -> “kvoldormur”).

p. 22; Under “Matriarchal Structure”, third paragraph, second sentence..

From: The mother dragonborn views her leaving home as a matter of pride, a kvoldomurstration of strength of will and maturity.

To: The mother dragonborn views her leaving home as a matter of pride, a demonstration of strength of will and maturity.

Why: Likely a find-and-replace error (“demon” -> “kvoldormur”).

p. 26; Section on “Tiefling”, first sentence

From: A tiefling he progeny of a union between a human and a fiend.

To: A tiefling is the progeny of a union between a human and a fiend.

Why: typo

p. 46 – Song of Steel

From: can bestow a d6 inspiration die per short rest

To: Can bestow half proficency (round down) to weapons or tools, bestowing skald must be present to activate

Why: right now, the wording theoretically allows every single tool and weapon and piece of ammo to be tuned in town, perhaps even by a friendly skald or skald troupe, every time. That wasn’t the point. The mechanics of this are too close to what the basic skaldic inspiration die IS, and so it needs tuning and limits. So: half proficiency as the bonus, maximum tuning that can ever be active is CHA bonus, skald must be present and spend their reaction to activate the ability. This will require a rewrite.

p. 112 – Art Page/Flyting Rules

From: Art page

To: Flyting

Why: forgot to include the flyting rules, which should fit on one page. Can move the art elsewhere!

p. 166 – Entire Map

From: white pixels included in bottom image of map

To: remove pixels

Why: image placement error

P279 under “shield proficiency”
From: “Each size of shield is a separate proficiency. Each class that is proficient with shields may choose to be proficient with up to two shield size types that are of equal or smaller size than”
To: the heaviest armor with which they are proficient.
Why: typo end of last sentence missing/incomplete.

 

TBD

I know I said progress reports on Monday, but the last 24 hours were amazing. The preliminary PDF files are basically done.

The Basic Combat Rules for the Berserker pledge level are finished. I laid them out instead of just a word file. They’re 51 pages long.

The full PDF is now in a playable, sort-of-complete state. I believe I’ve got everything that’s going to be in the book in the book. All the text (all edited but Foes), tables, art holes and some art, placeholders for the Index and ToC, the AppendX, and a character sheet.

It comes in at 292 pages for now, and my goal will be to get it down to 288, which is a bit more than I was shooting for, but it shouldn’t change much.

I was not expecting to be this far along by today, so I was able to turn a draft over to Christopher for indexing to begin.

This doesn’t really bring me “ahead” of schedule, but it does keep me solidly on schedule.

Regardless, my plan was to have a playable if unfinished (meaning “fit and finish,” not “still writing rules” PDF ready for you guys to start reading and using the day the KS funds settle. I expect to receive notice of that on Monday (it should have been tomorrow, but I suspect ‘first business day’ will do), and then 1-3 business days (probably 3) to hit the bank. When that happens, I’ll send out the files and push the button on the surveys.

Pre-orders are also open. If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still order the books through Backerkit!

There’s actually more news coming: Dragon Heresy is getting its own website. But I’ll cover that when it’s farther along!

A week makes a big difference, and a lot happened in the past 7 days. So here’s the progress report for the week ending May 7!

The biggest stuff that was on my formal to-do list:

  • Look at the skald spells and ensure they’re in the spells list.
  • Check the new spells from the added Clerical Domains and make sure they’re in there somewhere.
  • Rewrite and examine the equipment list to add a bit of Norse flavor, as well as some issues I’ve had with the armor list
  • Re-analyze the fighting styles for fighter to make sure all is consistent and no style is more or less powerful than others out of the box
  • Cut down the combat rules for the Berserker level’s reward
  • Write rules for flyting, a ritual exchange of poetic insults
  • Trim and edit the “AppendX” (misspelled purposefully, pronounced Append-X) for the new rules inclusions

The short version: all of it got done this past week. Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Progress Report To-dos and To-done’s”

I’ll send one of these out weekly on Monday. This will keep people informed but not become spam. So welcome to the first Monday Progress Update. Eventually this will include progress on other products as well.

Location Surveys for Shipping

We’ve got just shy of half the folks who have answered the location survey, which isn’t bad at all. The purpose of this three-question survey is to figure out the best way to get your books to you.

International shipping is a hot mess, and always has been. In all probability I’m going to be printing in the UK, Latvia, Korea, or China . . . all of which offer low/lower-cost shipping to “rest of world.”

My intent is to use the surveys to ask these vendors to hold back a box or two of books from the print run. Then either ship them themselves direct to you guys or to send them to a third party who will individually mail them out for me. That should save quite a bit of money on that.

So: please fill out the survey! There are only three questions; it should take you less than five minutes. Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Monday Progress Update”

Well FRACK ME!! We DID IT!

I’m going to put this one right at the feet of one guy. A fellow MN native put in for two more shields. That tossed it over the edge for a full color offset print run with nine minutes left.

So now, EVERYONE GETS COLOR. I will work with my printers to find an offset print run that is the best book I can make.

I honestly didn’t think this would happen earlier today . . . so I thank you deeply for your trust and your funds.

Wow.

Thanks . . . and we got the print run. Awesome.

THANK YOU! I am amazed and awed

When we did almost $5,000 in the first two days, I was hopeful.

When the velocity slowed down, and for a bit it really looked like we’d have fewer backers than Lost Hall of Tyr, I was distressed.

But NOTHING prepared me for the last two days. And really nothing prepared me for the last two hours.

But we did it. Offset print is yours. Color books are yours. Jarls and above get color. Probably something like 125-140gsm silk matte paper (83-95#), sewn binding. 3.0mm boards. Did I mention SEWN FREAKING BINDING!?!

Basically, I’m going to ship you a book that looks like Symbaroum. I always wanted to do that, and thanks you you fine folks, now I can.

I’m giddy.

Now I will drink wine (Apothic Inferno), and had I realized this last two hours would have been so exciting, I’d have bought mead to be thematic.

I will be structuring my plans over the next few days, and getting backerkit ready. A big part of that is pre-orders, and that’s where we’ll deal with shipping.

For now . . . thank you so much for taking this ride with me. I cannot wait to get the book into your hands, and now I know it will indeed be the best possible book I can put together.

The Final Countdown

Well, we’re down to the countdown. 10 hours to go.

We’ll have to see a remarkable acceleration in pledges (or about five shield pledges) to hit the offset print run. It’s not impossible. We’re talking 6 shields, 25-30 Styðja sponsor pledges, or 50-60 Jarl pledges.

Not impossible. I will need your help, of course: share it out, pump it up, talk about it, tell folks what you like, and why you pledged. Point it out to retailers, especially.

What’s Next

The short version is that once the campaign closes, it takes Kickstarter about two weeks to charge all the cards and finalize the transactions.

As soon as that’s done, several things will happen.

Initial PDF Distribution. There is already a playable, laid-out version of the game kicking around. Likewise, I will cut down the rules to what was promised for the Berserker levels. That distribution of the initial PDF

In the meantime, Vincent and I are editing the heck out of the manuscript. Of the nine chapters (recognizing that Ch.9, Foes, is 1/3 of the book and the magic/spells section is very long as well), I’m finalizing Chapter 4.

I’ve added Skald, Social Standing, Runic Berserker, and the rest of the Clerical Domains to the characters chapter. I will be editing and adding the optional rules, including new rules for Flyting (ritual exchange of insults), as well as the optional rules for shields.

The rest, from backgrounds to Feats, will probably need to be set aside until the near-final layout is done, complete with maps, front matter, index, ToC, backer thanks page, etc. Then we’ll see where we are for page count, and hopefully we’ll be able to fit some of it. Because we both know one of those extra pages is a glossary and pronunciation guide, right?

Rest easy, though: for backgrounds especially, I’ve got an idea there.

When the funds settle, everyone at the $5 and up level will get something electronically. It may still be in need of some editing, layout shifts, or a bit more artwork, but you’ll be able to play the game. This should happen on or about May 11, depending when Kickstarter finished their thing. Might be a bit earlier, might be a bit later.

At that point, I’ll ask everyone to read and play it! And get back to me on typos, errors, layout issues, rules questions/clarifications . . . anything that doesn’t look right, bring it to my attention. There will be a dedicated blog post where I’ll collect your comments. I did this for Dungeon Grappling and it worked great.

Backerkit Phase Begins. Sometime in mid- to late-May, the Backerkit phase will begin. You’ll be able to order/select add-ons, see what shipping will look like, etc. By that time I hope to have my internal printing plans locked down, and will be able to confirm shipping, especially to my international backers. I’m aware of how painful it can be, and trying to take steps to avoid it.

PDF Finalization, Print, and Ship. Some time in June or July, I’ll close the responses, finalize the PDF, and send that out. At the same time, I’ll upload the B/W and Color 300dpi print files to DriveThruRPG as well as sending the two styles of book (assuming we don’t spike and hit $16,000) to my selected printer(s). The typical print cycle is 12 weeks, then a month for shipping. So that puts us on or a month ahead of schedule if that all works out.

Color and Black and White

Actual pages from the UK printer that will likely be doing the color print books, unless we hit the big goal at $16KThe lead candidate for a color printing is not POD from my usual suspect. It’s a company in the UK that offered a fantastic price on a 200-book print run. Right now, I’ve only got about 50 takers for color, so I’ll have extras in case you want to add them in the Backerkit phase. The B/W books will be fulfilled by POD, since the price differential between POD, digital offset, and true offset in the quantities we’re talking about for this campaign aren’t enough to matter.

Are we done with Dragon Heresy?

No.

Just no.

Northern Torengar is the site for both Citadel of Northwatch and The Hunted LandsI have at least two adventures planned. One short one that I will do my darnedest to get out Right Away that will be designed as an intro micro-setting. Several intertwined plot threads that invite sandbox play rather than a linear-style adventure thread. That one is tentatively called The Citadel of Northwatch.

The other is a much more ambitious setting called The Hunted Lands. There’s a cool nordic name for it too: Veiddarlond. That one contains eight different micro-settings within the broader location, and should be a great way to get from level 1 through level 5 . . . or even higher.

And I do have ideas for what “higher levels” would look like, but of course that depends on how this campaign finishes, and if Dragon Heresy looks like it has legs.

After that, I’ve got a few other projects in the works, including Hall of Judgment (a Powered-by-GURPS Dungeon Fantasy RPG conversion of Lost Hall of Tyr), and hopefully the sci-fi game Venture Beyond, by David Pulver.

But for now: share! Tell folks why you backed the project and why they should to. Make me a liar by forcing me to rework my plans and go offset.

I double-dog dare you.

Thanks for the ride so far, but it’s not over yet.

Douglas Cole
Chief Everything Officer
Gaming Ballistic, LLC

Dragon Heresy: The Last 48 Hours

As always, the last 48 hours of a Kickstarter are crucial. One can frequently match the first two days’ funding totals in the last two days, and for Dragon Heresy, if we did that, we’d be seriously flirting with the big stretch goal at $16,000 for an offset run with sewn binding.

We are currently sitting at roughly $11,000, with the initial funding goal having been $3,500.

But let’s back up a bit.

What is Dragon Heresy?

Dragon Heresy is a stand-alone Fantasy RPG based on a grittier take on the Fifth Edition game engine. It uses a two-level target hit roll, and differentiated between skill and endurance (“vigor”), injury (“wounds”), and retains Fifth Edition’s excellent use of Conditions, including Exhaustion. You do NOT need other Fifth Edition books to play the game; character generation, combat, social standing, flyting, grappling, wilderness and survival, and monsters are all in the book.

The setting is strongly Norse-inspired, which influences the cultures that are playable, but also the mechanics, since the vikings’ use of lightweight, buckler-gripped shields as very nearly the primary weapon heavily influenced the combat rules options.

Finally, it integrates one of the best grappling mechanics written for such games, making grappling interchangeable with striking on a blow-by-blow basis. One new player played a dragonborn berserker whose primary weapon was a net with no slowdown in play, full use of the rules, and outstandingly fun outcomes.

Tell Me More

No problem. I’ve done a lot of that – here are some additional resources for those who wish to check out the project

Podcasts and Video

Reviews

There have been two reviews of the pre-release copy of the game (it’s fully written).

  • Follow Me and Die! took a look and liked what he saw
  • Moe Tousignant is in the middle of a truly comprehensive review, and allowed me to host his first two sections on my blog
  • James Spahn (White Star and other games) took a look at a pre-release copy and liked what he saw.

The Kickstarter: What You Get

There are only a few pledge levels

  • At $5 you get a stripped down version of the combat rules in sort-of edited PDF format, with minimal layout and no art. It’s for taking the combat rules for a test drive
  • At $20 you get a full-color, hyperlinked, layered PDF
  • At $50 you get a Black and White POD hardback and the PDF
  • At the $100 sponsorship level, the hardback is upgraded to color
  • At $500, you get everything from the $100 level and I will hand-make for  you an authentic viking shield if you live within the USA. It will be fit to you up to 35.5” diameter, with hide-glued planks, Painted striðskjold battle shield with linen stitching and custom paint job1oz hide edging, linen stitching, and a hand-carved oak handle. This is basically “buy the shield and get the game for free.”

What Can You Do?

Obviously, the best thing for me is for you to head over and pledge. It’s a great game, with a great layout, and even if I do say so myself, the initial book block (the interior pages without the binding) from the most likely vendor unless we hit the big offset print goal are simply superb.

If you are interested in the game but can’t pledge, I’d ask that you share it on social media so that others that might be interested might see. Like Fifth Edition rules but want more grit? You’ll like what you see here. Like Norse mythology and vikings? You’re a prime candidate to love the game.

48 hours to go. Please check it out, and pledge if you can!

 

When I started to get quotes for printing, especially in color, I didn’t really know what I was looking to receive. But I just got a trial “book block” back from the vendor that is likely to be the printer for the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter unless we hit the $16,000 offset goal and it’s amazing.

The Specs

The book is what is referred to as digital offset, which is a bit more than Print-on-Demand, but much more suitable to low volume runs. They recommended a heavier paper than I was asking for due to the coloring, and so I said “sure.”

Then they offered to print me up a trial interior.

The paper is 140gsm silk, which is basically 95# weight.

Check out how impressive the block is at 254 pages:

Book Block Thickness
Book Block Thickness
Compared to Dracula Dossier
Compared to Dracula Dossier

(Note Dracula Dossier is sewn binding, so it’s a better book than what can be done with the above block.)

Interior Images

Following are some indifferent-quality photographs with my camera phone of the interior print quality.

First, the edge, where the chapter markers (currently not spread out) clearly bleed through and will provide a great way to find pages. We may wind up changing colors too, for a better visual reference.

Now a few images of the interior.

So the color print seems well in hand, and is a great “thank you” to all that have pledged at the “sponsor” level (Styðja). In truth, you have a backer to thank, since he suggested upgrading the sponsor level to the color print!

But this book will likely wind up about 1″ thick including the covers. I cannot wait to get final layout and content sorting done!