Today was a long day, but a good one. Obviously I pushed out the PDF of the counter art, but the last y’all heard from me, I’d just received Vampire Hunter Belladonna.

There’s been significant progress since then.

All Books

One note: I do need to go through all the books and put in active hyperlinks. These are not required to get the book to print, so I tend to do this last, even AFTER the files are sent to the printer. For most of the books, this isn’t a big deal. For Vampire Hunter Belladonna, this will be rather more challenging, as I suspect that there will be well over 500 hyperlinks.

Castle Ironskull

As far as I can tell, this one’s done and ready to export as both the cover and the interior pages. SJG has received a PDF file with what I call a u-code, which is a title followed by u20190811 or something like that, which is the date of the last revision. It means it’s retail ready.

Crown of Eternity

There are two tweaks to the maps that have been suggested but not yet implemented. One (marking a secret door that got dropped from one of the maps) is required. The other is optional but I’ll probably do it anyway. Even so: this one’s got all art and is ready to go as well, pending final read-through and checks.

Citadel of Ice

All errata, art, and changes in place. Ready for retail.

Curse of the Pirate King

This got the errata and some final checks as well, and other than VHB was the one with the most yet to do. But over the last few days, it got done, and this too is ready to go pending hyperlinks and a final formatting check.

Vampire Hunter Belladonna

I sent the preliminary file, with Glynn’s maps, and one piece of interior art by new-to-me artist Teresa Guido, to 50 people for testing and comments. This is even beyond the 10 or so folks at the Master and Commander/League and Legion levels that saw it first of all. Some feedback has come in already, and I expect more over the next few days.

The artists are starting to contact me for reviewing final drawings, and the WIP I’ve seen thus far is a whole lot of fun.

Beyond that, we got a very full weekend of fixes and tweaks done, and the file seems pretty close to ready. Well, other than 500 or so hyperlinks and the pending internal art. That’s supposed to come in by Aug 15, in time for spooling the printer-worthy files in time to send them to Latvia on Sunday night, August 18.

Die-Cut Counters and PDF File of Same

As noted in the previous update, these are ready to print, with file art uploaded. The PDF is out in your hands, if you ordered it.

Decks of Destiny PDF and Cards

This was very deliberately left for last. There are 210 individual counters from the five adventures, and from those I will pick 63 hopefully-unique samples and fill out Wizard- or Creature-style cards for all: 3.5×5″, and using the layout from DoD which was provided by SJG. They’re cool that way.

I have no-background greyscale art ready for import into the cards, and I purchased the required stock art so that I can properly make use of the layout. Now I just need to pick my victims and get crackin’ from a stats transfer perspective.

This is a boring sample (and the art is old art, and the color tag is wrong) of the DoD styel cards, complete with the GB logo making up the final hit on the hit point tracker.

Spooling the PDF and prepping the cards is basically the same task, so these two will also finish together. It is, however, the major item not done, and I’ll be turning my effort to completing this one this week.

Parting Shot

Right now, and I really should not say this out loud, the momentum to having everything in hand August 15 is very strong. The VHB art is the only true thing that isn’t done for the books, and I informed my printer of the intent to order 1,000 each of the print copies of five adventures today via email. That’s about double what I need . . . but I have a good feeling about these.

So I see me sending printable files to Livonia on Aug 18. Figure a month to get ’em printed, a week or two to ship to the UK and get the international copies distributed, a month to get to the fulfillment center, a week to get stuff straight, and then another 2 weeks for mailing them out. So 13-14 weeks until it’s all in hand…that’s mid October.

And THAT means we’re currently steaming to an on-time delivery, with a week or two of slack time in there for good measure.

As I continue to work towards the closure of various Kickstarters, I thought I’d take a moment to work down the list of what GB currently offers, and its status. I’ll do this in the order they were published for active products, and then talk about a few things I’m retiring or deprecating.

One quick note: unless I screw things up badly, and in business, that’s always possible, 2019 is going to be the best year to date for Gaming Ballistic. Not only is revenue up already by 2x over 2018 (and there’s still likely another KS in the near future this year), but GB is strongly trending to a profit as well. Even formal break-even would be amazing – covering 100% of all costs – but having something left over to fund future work or (gasp) reimburse my own inputs is a great thing, and very good for Year 3 of a business.

Anyway: to arms!

Active Products

The following products are currently on sale at Gaming Ballistic and/or other places, and likely to remain so.

Dungeon Grappling

Dungeon Grappling was my first product, and the one that set the tone for Gaming Ballistic and Kickstarters. It’s also sold well: Since creation, Dungeon Grappling has moved 654 PDF copies and an additional 358 print copies, for what was my first title with over 1,000 sales.

It is, even if I do say so myself, very good, and achieves its mission of unifying the grappling mechanics and feel in S&W and 5e; I think it falls short on Pathfinder a bit. Other folks think so too.

I recently found myself having to re-order 100 copies of my print version, having run out. I’d need to do a well-received crowdfunding campaign that scored at least 500 (and ideally 750) backers to reprint this in a way that could go do distribution, though. Unless that happened it’s going to have to stay POD.

Honestly? The demand should be there. It really adds to games. Perhaps if I continue to grow revenue and income I’ll invest and take the inventory risk. That can be a 2020 goal.

Dragon Heresy Introductory Set

The crown jewel, in a way, of my RPG line, this was the reason I got into RPG publishing in the first place. This is, bar none, the highest production value book I have made, and competes favorably with any other book on the market from that perspective.  Heavy weight cover (3mm board), 128gsm (85#) matte-coated paper with a sewn binding, done by offset printing. In the last 15 minutes of the Kickstarter, I got a $1,000 pledge that pushed me into “offset print run” territory, and I committed hard, ordering 1,500 books.

Well, I still have a lot of those left, but my recent experience at CONVergence gives me hope – it was my strongest seller in numbers and dollars, at a convention where basically no one shows up to buy RPGs (that’s not its purpose).

To date, Dragon Heresy has moved 414 PDF and 309 Print copies. There have been perhaps 30 distribution sales into retail, and 8 direct-to-retail sales. Folks that have played it – really played it – have commented favorably on the blend of tactics and options without being overwhelming. OSR players that have experimented with it talk of it as “the only version of 5e they’ll play.” At the convention, when asked, I not-entirely jokingly said “Well, this one time, GURPS and 5e got drunk at a convention, and disappeared to a room for a bit. A year (maybe two?) later, Dragon Heresy was born.”

There will be more Dragon Heresy support coming out in the future, and should things pick up more, I have levels 6-20 already written, with vastly more monsters, classes, races, and spells, all tuned to the game.

Lost Hall of Tyr (Second Edition)

An enhanced version of the original Lost Hall of Tyr based on the doubling of the page count that we did for Hall of Judgment.

It includes a lot more on the city of Isfjall, which is a great viking-flavored location for any D&D game (and is presented in mostly system-neutral terms anyway, which means it’s a great location for any game). It’s moved about 91 PDF and 118 Print copies, so not a strong seller yet. I’ve got an idea about that, but it’ll be late 2020 I think before I can pull it off.

Hall of Judgment (First and Second Edition)

My first license for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, it was, at the time, almost my best Kickstarter to date (since eclipsed by both Nordvorn and Four Perilous Journeys). It was the expansion that added 64 pages to the convention-driven Lost Hall of Tyr (1st Edition) and added new maps.

The success of Nordvorn meant I could revisit it for distribution, and I did. Sewn binding, excellent paper, and upgrade maps, plus errata fixes. And a cost to produce that’s low enough to support sitting with pride next to Nordvorn and (hopefully . . . retailers get on it!) the Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed set.

Folks that have played this with me at conventions have loved it. Play reports and reviews have been very positive. Inspired by Dungeon Fantasy: Caverntown, it delivers what GURPS fans have been asking for: a full-color, high production value treatment of their favorite game, and adventure support to boot. In print.

It also includes a preliminary version of “Fantastic Dungeon Grappling,” which was later expanded into its own stand-alone release. Taking the concepts from my SJG-published book GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling, and refined in Dungeon Grappling, it distills the core down to about four pages.

It also includes over 30 monsters and 16 pre-generated DFRPG characters, which means it has more monsters in it than the excellent DFRPG Monsters 2 book.

To date, Hall of Judgment (both editions) has moved 717 PDF and 541 Print copies, for 1,258 total sales! Over 120 of those came from the Nordvorn Kickstarter as the second edition version . . . and THAT book just arrived at Studio 2 on August 6, which means it should start heading off to backers Real Soon Now.

Note that until I run out, Hall of Judgment 1st Edition is on sale at both my website and Warehouse 23 for 50% off. So if you want a print version of the book but don’t want to pay as much, you can nab it for about $12.50.

The Citadel at Norðvorn

While Dragon Heresy has – by virtue of being a hardcover – ostensibly higher production values, I am ridiculously proud of Norðvorn.

Front to back, it’s a gorgeous book. The art team over-delivered, and the setting screams to be used. As a mini-setting, it’s not an “adventure” so much as it is a playground. A great, glorious, full-color playground that lets you go romping around Nordlond dealing with men, faerie, and dragonkin in a strongly interlinked set of issues. It provides a relationship map that will allow GMs to improvise responses to their players’ actions, and I have used that map on more than one occasion to improvise four- and five-hour play sessions.

Nearly all the sales have come from the Kickstarter, and it’s not yet available for wide release. It arrived at Studio 2 in TN for distribution the week of Aug 6, and will hopefully be in all backers’ hands by the end of the month.

Thus far, even so, it’s sold 587 PDF and 432 Print copies, for 1,119 total.

Fantastic Dungeon Grappling

Yeah, I write a lot of grappling rules. But rarely have I had an opportunity to play, refine, rewrite, play some more, play with other people, and then finally commit to print such a concise, fun-filled short work.

I won’t lie, folks: this is the grappling product you want. It is better-written, fully tested, and simply an improved version of Technical Grappling, done in 8 pages rather than 50. Why? Because as it turns out, you don’t really need more. Now, I could certainly take TG and do each technique as a worked example using the concepts presented in Fantastic Dungeon Grappling. But for the DFRPG, well, those techniques don’t exist.

This is my most-played concept. I and my fellow GM friends have used these rules in actual play over multiple campaigns, and they add a lot of flavor and fun to the game with minimal overhead.

It moved 272 PDF copies and 171 Print copies through me during the kickstarter . . . and, well, at least 1,000 more because it was included in the DFRPG Boxed Set Reprint. That was something I never expected SJG to do, but they did, and it means in terms of number of copies floaing out there, this is my #1 product, ever.

Pending Products

The following products are currently in the final stages of development and production. They are all part of the “Four Perilous Journeys” crowdfunding campaign and were developed for The Fantasy Trip, with rules under license from Steve Jackson Games.

  • Ironskull Castle (16-page GM’d adventure by David Pulver)
  • Crown of Eternity (16-page GM’d adventure by Christopher Rice and J. Edward Tremlett)
  • Citadel of Ice (16-page GM’d adventure by David Pulver)
  • Curse of the Pirate King (16-page GM’d adventure by Christopher Rice and J. Edward Tremlett)
  • Vampire Hunter Belladonna (32-page solo adventure by David Pulver)

These products are being finalized and are due to go live, and be sent to the printer, before Aug 18. They will also have NPC/Monster cards available – but ONLY through the Kickstarter/Backerkit Pre-order – that are compatible with the Decks of Destiny. And full-color 1″ counters to go with each adventure. And more.

This was my most successful Kickstarter in backer count and funding level, with only a few dollars shy of $50,000 raised before fees and licensing and whatnot. These are going to be very, very pretty on the inside, and the color cover/greyscale interior aesthetic is being put to great use by the art team. These will also go into distribution!

The Kickstarter moved 608 PDF copies and 432 Print copies of each volume, making it an instant 1,000+ club member.

Viking Shields

These mostly move through my Kickstarters as super-high-end tier products, and (due to a house move that disassembled my workshop) I still have four in the queue to make. I’ve maybe sold 10 . . . but they get better and more historically accurate with each one, and they’re an awful lot of fun.

I’ve gotten better supply chains and so they’re more affordable, and the materials (hides, cheese glue or hide glue, milk-based paints, quarter- or rift-sawn poplar that I cut down and dried myself) are top notch.

Retiring/Idle Products

There are several products that are going to be de-emphasized or retired completely.

  • Lost Hall 1st Edition in all forms
  • Hall of Judgment 1st Edition PDF

For obvious reasons, these “first edition” products are being replaced by their improved versions. Accounts at Warehouse 23 and other places will be updated with the new versions where possible, but they’re new ISBNs for the new editions as well.

Parting Shot

Even if I do say so myself, the fact that all of my DFRPG products have moved 1,000 copies or more impresses me. In fact, the only books of mine that haven’t moved more than 1,000 copies (though that does add together print and PDF sales independently) are Dragon Heresy and Lost Hall of Tyr.

I have more stuff on the way, as well. I’m contracted with authors to provide the equivalent of six 16-page TFT books (which will likely be another 32-page solo and four GM’d adventures). I’m also looking for more authors, and I hope to find a way to release a lot more of these 16-page and 32-page books in the next few years.

The next project that launches will be a pair of Nordlond expansions, The Dragons of Rosgarth and Forest’s End, each of which will be 64-80 pages long and further flesh out the northern border of the Nordlond Setting. Look for that in late August or September.

So . . . that’s what’s going on with my books. Take a look. Maybe buy a few.

I’m going to try and keep this short and disgruntled.

I’ve got Drop Caps that I’m using for ID’ing part of a new adventure. I have asked, and the author complied, that all of the room numbers for a programmed adventure have three digits in them. I used a Paragraph Style and set the first three letters in the style to drop cap by three lines.

That gave me this, which was unacceptably tight. Ignore the crap font for now; I wanted the numbers to stand out, and tried the same font as the title. It doesn’t work; not readable enough. But the different font will be important later. For the record, it’s called “Rebuffed.”

Next, I treid a bunch of other things, including what was most-recommended on the net, setting a linked Character Style to higher Kerning. A LOT higher. That not only spaced out the drop-cap, but it made the character spacing unacceptably wide for the room numbers. So no joy there.

I tried something else, and while I got good spacing, it inexplicably dropped the room number. I still have no idea what caused this. At all.

Finally, I found that if I manually first deleted, and then inserted a single space between the large number and the following text, I could highlight that space and adjust the Kerning of just that space. That works.

Great, I have 193 room numbers. I don’t wish to do this 193 times. Fortunately, with GREP I don’t have to.

  • Go into Find.
  • Use the GREP part of Find (click on it).
  • Find any three digits (\d\d\d) or (/d/d/d) I can’t remember at the moment, and use “find format” to select the Rebuffed font.
  • In Replace, use $0_ ($0 is “found string” and the underscore is a space), and set the Kerning to what you want. In my case, it was 200. If you need more, you can get more, manually.
  • Change all. Oh, look . . . 193 changes made. Wooticus.
  • THEN, go back to GREP. Don’t change the “find” because you still want those same three characters. Delete the space in the Replace box.
  • Then change the Kerning formatting back to zero.
  • Change all. 193 changes made, and now there’s a space after the three-digit Drop Cap with the proper Kerning. And it looks like this.

So all is right with the world for now.

There are a LOT of tricks to do fun things with a single drop-cap letter. Fewer that I could find with a drop-cap string of things. A lot of the “fixes,” which will 100% work, are to take your drop-cap target and cut it out, then paste it back as an anchored object. This is a pain in the rear to do 193 times, but the formatting choices you will have are much larger, as you can use the very robust Text Wrap features to control formatting. In fact, what I’d appreciate in InDesign quite a bit would be if the Drop Cap function did exactly that: it pulled each targeted letter out of its string and pasted it in as an anchored object with the proper settings automatically, creating a Paragraph Style and Character Style called (say) Drop Cap Style 1 and Drop Cap Character Style 1. That way you can independently format the drop-cap and the following text more easily. You can still do it, but one must be careful, or you get the weird behavior in my middle example without changing any of the settings. I mean, I’m sure what’s happening is my fault; the computer is just following instructions. But something changes and it’s not always something I know how to fix.

Anyway, that’s my “struggling mightily with InDesign” layout lesson for today. Hopefully it’s useful to someone.

 

Castle Ironskull and Crown of Eternity

Yesterday I sent out preliminary PDF copies of Castle Ironskull, a 16-page adventure by David Pulver for The Fantasy Trip. It’s the first of five adventures created for the “Four Perilous Journeys” Kickstarter, which successfully funded at well over target level. This begins roughly a month of proofing, refining, and final adjustment before the files to to the printer and finalizing quantities. That means if you missed the Kickstarter campaign proper . . . it’s not too late! Pre-orders are open on Backerkit.

This morning I “blasted” notification emails for Crown of Eternity. These notes should be in your in-box; if not, check Spam. If not, email me or send me a message through Kickstarter.

Unlike Castle Ironskull, Crown’s counter art is not yet complete. But here’s what’s coming

  • 14 salt-wraiths
  • 7 wights
  • 6 royal wights
  • 4 gargoyles
  • 3 cactus things
  • 3 human henchmen
  • 3 tooth snakes
  • 2 important NPCs

I’ve seen the preliminary art for the salt wraiths and the royal wights this morning; they’re lovely.

As always, please send any observed mistakes to my email: gamingballisticllc@gmail.com with [Crown of Eternity] in the subject header.

Other Progress

We really are coming to the end. The next big steps are to prepare the actual printed counter sheets, which means choosing a design for the back of each sheet (something y’all helped me with in prior updates), and then moving the color version of each one to the vendor site.

It also means preparing the PDF of the color sheets for those that get it. These two steps are really the same.

It also means putting some labels down on each counter so that you can distinguish them by more than looks. Again: that’s going to happen at the same time as the other two steps.

Since the color counter art is in hand for most of these, the job is tedious but can be done at any time; because physical printing of the books is slower than printing the counters, I can even start this after the final book print files go to Latvia . . . but I probably will try and get a jump on them earlier.

The card decks are the other bit of tedium. These will require some coordination with SJG, but again, a lot of work is done – largely thanks to SJG giving me the files for Decks of Destiny. If someone says (and I saw this on Reddit) “SJG is hard to work with,” let’s just say my experience has been radically different, and better (and I said this on Reddit). It continues to be a true pleasure.

So really, once the final art comes in, it’s a whole bunch of “grunt work” but that’s that. The rest is proofing, tweaking, and getting the very-simple NPC stats transferred over.

Card Decks

Just to be clear: we passed the 250-deck stretch goal for increasing the number of cards in the deck to 63. That means 12 or 13 cards per adventure. The next goal would be at 500 decks, which seems unlikely at this time. Pre-orders in sufficient quantity – which means nice comments need to spread beyond this forum! – would fix that, but it needs to be soon!

In any case, for (say) Crown of Eternity, you would get both important NPCs, one each of the rest (minimum), and duplicated of the salt wraiths and wights. Where I have to choose, items that already appear somewhere else (another deck) or are fairly mundane – like the gargoyle above – will be dropped to ensure a unique monster, especially one that appears in large numbers, has more than one such card.

About those Pre-Orders

This has been a very successful project for me, and is on track to remain so (but it’s not over until I pay for shipping, so . . . ). Pre-order volume, however, has been very light.

You can help me with that. Saying nice things on Social Media, and including the pre-order link, really does make a difference. Now that the adventures are in hand, quick capsule reviews of the good (which can generate sales) and the improvable (which helps me and the authors refine the game for next time) are huge boosters. Coming from not-Gaming-Ballistic they have more weight than me or my authors promoting our own product.

And after all, there were 3,300 backers or so for the original Legacy Edition. That leaves roughly 2,700 people who are right smack in the target market here! Let’s get busy. (Kidding. Sort of. Well, not really.)

All Book Covers

Just to leave you with some pictures, and most of you have seen these before. But . . . here are the final covers for all five adventures.

So, my first ever convention as a dealer has come and gone: CONVergence 2019. I’m going to rapid-fire my impressions. I’ll upload pictures later.

Logistics, Set-up, Take-Down

So, I’m local, which is one of the reasons I picked this one. But even with that, I have to say: for a new venue, these guys had stuff down cold. It helps that my setup needs were light.

Even so, I showed up with my inventory and booth gear, with hand-truck in the car. Didn’t need it. Pull up to the garage, a staff of folks with pallet jacks show up and whisk your stuff to your booth, you depart and park.

I was the first in line to take-down, too. And when I walked up at exactly 4:01pm and said “I’m ready,” so were they. I was in my car on my way home by 4:15pm. So while more elaborate booths (like the poor folks who brought in a virtual mountain of etched-glass mugs) I’m sure took longer, folks with a limited presence like myself was nearly frictionless. 10/10, can recommend, etc.

Setup for me was, as noted, easy. I was fairly well prepared given I had only six products for sale.

Sales and Performance

Booth fees were $265, and of course I spent some money getting durable set-up stuff, like inventory stands and a banner.

I was, I believe, one of the only, if not the only, vendors of pure RPG material there. If you wanted gaming stuff, you pretty much chatted with me.

Mostly, folks walked on by. It’s a Sci-Fi convention, not a RPG one. Total sales were $380 . . . so I probably broke even.

I did, however, give out a LOT of business cards, and made a very important contact at The Source. After the Con, I drove there and I do expect that we’ll start having them stock my stuff. The numbers I was told in terms of “sure, we’ll take X of each” would more than double my sales even at the retail discount. Others might buy shields, though I doubt it – they’re expensive – and still more will browse my store and maybe pick up a PDF or two.

So: financially, break-even to win. Not “wow, I need to do this every month” win. But “did not lose money” win.

Note: this would not be true with an out-of-town convention. Had the same volume been had at GameHole Con or some other place, it would have been a loss. That being said, a dedicated RPG con would have had fewer people just walk by.

Biggest seller, in terms of quantity and funds, for the con? Much to my surprised pleasure, Dragon Heresy hardbacks. I also moved one copy of Lost Hall of Tyr 2nd edition, and a pair of Dungeon Grappling.

Product Mix

As noted, Dragon Heresy is a pretty book with a compelling pitch to those that are open to it. More old-school deadliness, less-silly reliance on hit point ablation, and chock full of viking goodness. I don’t need a high penetration of folks that want just a bit of a different 5e experience to do very well with that product.

I also had the Dungeon Fantasy RPG on display, but not for sale. Mostly so I could point to Nordvorn and Hall of Judgment and Fantastic Dungeon Grappling and say “THESE go with THIS.”

Had I had boxes to sell, though, or TFT to sell . . . I’m betting I could have sold a few. “I don’t have anything to play it with” turns in to “Play it with this!”

Hits and Misses

I could probably have sold a lot of memberships to Asfolk while I was there, had I had cards. I did break even, or make money, so that’s a win. Getting there, setting up, running the booth, and teardown were easy and were not an obstacle to fun.

I spent a lot of time on Saturday painting my most-authentic viking shield with milk-based white paint. This drew much interest and good conversation was had. Doing it dressed in authentic mail lent a degree of cosplay and “I’m one of you” authenticity to the thing that was well received, and a few folks even took pictures. Were I to go whole-hog and up my Viking game, it would be well received.

What could be improved for next time?

  • This is a heavy sci-fi and pop culture show. Had I had physical product to move – even not my own – I’d have done much better.
  • Next year, I know exactly what do to with some physical product, and I think I can make it happen fairly easily. Not tellin’, though.
  • I brought way too much inventory. Next time, I’ll limit my supply to make it even easier to come and go. If it looks like I’m going to run out of something, I’ll bring more from home. Or even the car. But Even ten of each of six products, which would likely fit in just a few boxes, would work
  • More stuff. Next year I’ll have at least the five new TFT products, and maybe two more DFRPG ones. More Dragon Heresy support would be good, and I had a request for what will make a nice short supplement that can probably be cross-ported into other games as well.
  • Staff. There was me and my kids, who were mostly bored, but well-behaved. With at least one more adult, I could have walked the floor and seen a few panels or other participatory things. As it was, my feet were nailed to the floor in the booth for four days straight.
  • Demos and games. This ties in with “staff,” but there IS an RPG conclave of games at CONVergence, and having folks running my stuff for me while I work the booth would be a huge improvement. I’m sure if SJG showed up with MiBs, and I had TFT and Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed sets to sell, plus my own material, there would be a wonderful synergy there.

Overall, the convention was fun. They usually are. I talked games with a lot of folks, painted my shield, sold some stuff, and handed out a lot of cards. I might try Con of the North or another dedicated RPG convention instead of, or in addition to, CONVergence to see if my theories are correct.

Cosplay and Visual Appeal

Lots of good costume play here, though I didn’t see many full-dress folks from the Manticorian (Manticoran?) Navy – from the Honor Harrington series – there this year like I did last year. Still, some great costumes on display.

 

It’s been a bit since I provided an update, so here we go.

At the high level, the Four (Five!) Perilous Journeys Kickstarter is chugging along, on budget, on schedule, and making progress. Backerkit is moving along, pre-orders are a bit light, and the art that’s coming in is really blowing my socks off.

Shipping

International shipping still scares the pants off me. That being said, I have made a few adjustments I wanted to cover (again, really: I mentioned it in a prior update).

If you’re shipping game accessories to Canada, instead of having the orders ship from the UK, they’ll ship from the US. This avoids weird questions with taxes and VAT from the UK side and saves Canucks a few bucks.

If you’re shipping books only, which are not taxed, they’ll still come from the UK.

Otherwise, I sent the list of international shipments to my fulfillment partner and he pre-calculated what I was going to likely owe given where we were on things, and basically I’ve gotten the shipping essentially correct. I’m not hundreds or thousands of dollars over or under for the international shipping, which is what I was afraid of. Under because that would turn a successful project into a very painful one, and I don’t want to do that. Over because shipping is not supposed to be a profit center. If one includes the money it will take to get the accessories over to the UK in the first place . . . I may be within a few tens of dollars of “exactly right.” So booyah. That’s good and right.

Backerkit Progress, Funding, and Spending

We’re really doing very well. We’re well over 90% and have been for a bit, and have brought in as I type this about $8,600 in extra revenue, with 93% of backers having responded to the survey. In truth, about half of the 37 folks who haven’t yet responded aren’t receiving any products that are set to ship, so unless they wish to engage in a pledge adjustment or throw down some add-ons, they’ll get what they paid for.

It looks like we’re linearizing to about $9,000 to $9,100 in total extra funds, which means overall, the Kickstarter probably brought in close to $50K at the top line. That’s rather nice.

I’ve done a preliminary tally, and total revenue (less Kickstarter fees) will be around $45,000 – $9K from Backerkit and $36K from Kickstarter. I’ve paid a bunch of bills so far and I project having anywhere from $25-29K left to spend. That will leave me with actual profit for the campaign, plus the distribution sales that hopefully will come once the print versions go into retail stores.

So the trajectory is good, though of course in business there’s always room to screw things up.

Pre-Orders thus far are pretty light. Hopefully folks will see this update who missed the Kickstarter and jump in.

Covers

Mostly you’ve seen these, I think. But three of the five covers are basically finished.

I’m working with my artists on the last two covers; I will likely tweak each one out a bit more to ensure maximum readability and uniformity of presentation: logo sizes and position, etc.

Interior

I’m starting to see interior art come in, but that’s a bit of the long pole in the tent. One of the long poles.

The art here is by Ben Jan, who also did the covers of Crown (this book) and Curse. I’ve engaged Sandrine Malus to balance out a few more pieces in Crown, which will effectively finish the book save for title page credits, playtester credits, ISBN, and some map tweaks.

Citadel of Ice will have the interior art done last…but see below for progress on the counters.

Pirate King has been commissioned and is being worked; I need to get in touch with the artist for Ironskull, which though the first finished is the last to be worked from an art perspective.

Vampire Hunter Belladonna transitioned to the writing rather than outlining stage in the last week or so.

Counter Art

I got some updates from Rick (Citadel of Ice) on the die-cut color counter art. Holy wow.

I’ll just leave a few examples here, and then sign off. If you are inspired to jump in now, having missed the campaign . . . it’s not to late to pre-order.

The crowdfunding campaign for “Four Perilous Journeys: New Adventures for The Fantasy Trip” closed on June 8. It hit 250% funding and smashed my previous records for both backers and funds raised.

If you missed the campaign, or wanted to join in but could not . . .it’s not too late.

The Pre-Order Store for Four Perilous Journeys is open

Everything that was available during the campaign can be had in the pre-order store, plus a lot more besides.

 

The first 3rd-party licensed product for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG is on sale until I run out (there are only 50 or so copies left) for the same price as the PDF: $12.50.

This doesn’t have some errata fixes, and the maps are the older style instead of the upgraded Glynn Seal maps.

Hall of Judgment (Softcover Print for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG)

user avatar

As a Strange Dr once said: “We’re in the Endgame now.”

Oh: that may have been a spoiler.

In any case, I got the advance copies of Citadel and HoJ (2nd Edition) yesterday.

These are freakin’ gorgeous books. I’m super-proud of Citadel, and I hope you guys enjoy the heck out of it.

Enough back-patting: here are a few pictures.

All three books, in advance-copy form
All three books, in advance-copy form
Fantastic Dungeon Grappling, Citadel at Nordvorn,  Hall of Judgment (1e), and Hall of Judgment (2nd Edition) spine view
Fantastic Dungeon Grappling, Citadel at Nordvorn, Hall of Judgment (1e), and Hall of Judgment (2nd Edition) spine view
Map and Artist's Take on Longbru; Sewn binding visible.
Map and Artist’s Take on Longbru; Sewn binding visible.
Interior shot of Hall of Judgment 2e
Interior shot of Hall of Judgment 2e
Lay-flat binding!
Lay-flat binding!
Close-up of stitching. Should be robust.
Close-up of stitching. Should be robust.

And lastly, a parting shot of the two 128-page Norðlond books.

They should arrive in the UK maybe by the end of the week. I expect few shennanigans with getting them into the UK from Latvia, since books are 0% VAT and Latvia and the UK are easy relatively speaking. I’ve shipped bookmarks to Kixto from the US – I could not guarantee that the printer I had in the UK would produce product that would work with a dry-erase marker – and they should arrive June 18.

Shipping to international customers will be done within a few days after that; 1-8 weeks for delivery depending on the fortunes of shipping and travel.

Then the remainder of the books will be transported to Studio 2 in TN for fulfillment. Two weeks or less from arrival to books-in-hand.

Endgame.

I sent out a LOT of updates over the last few days. But this one is the best.

Thank you. We broke all my records that really matter this campaign: most backers (608 vs 600), most funding ($40,108!).

The trajectory of the campaign is something I’ll mull over and study a lot once I get my ducks in a row on producing five books, five token sheets, and a card deck all at once.

The relatively boring pledge curve, up to the campaign re-orientation, was a forceful lesson in what the TFT fans want in their product mix, at least (a) for Kickstarters, and (b) for Kickstarters being run simultaneously with a hugely successful OTHER Kickstarter from SJG!

In any case: Here’s the key bits of the schedule I’ll be trying to hit for you guys:

  • Kickstarter Ends June 8
  • Backerkit Opens June 25
  • Backerkit Ends July 8
  • Distribute PDFs End July
  • Files to Printer mid-August
  • Ship International end of September
  • Final Arrival end of October

The addition of the card decks and fifth adventure really pushed my schedule to the far side of “October,” and I’ll see where, if anywhere, I can accelerate to have more slack. But I need to give the artists time to do their thing properly, and David needs time to write Vampire Hunter Belladonna. Life may happen…but I’ll try and keep it tight, and you know you’ll be kept well informed.