I’ll start with the obvious: content has been thin on the ground here for a while in terms of stuff that’s not just updates to my production process/crowdfunding efforts. This one won’t be much different, but it’s a bit of a download on what’s going on.

A Bit of Chaos

First thing, the last few months – maybe since April – have been very hectic. My family decided to move. Not far, still in MN, but we started the process. Found a house we liked. Bought it. And moved.

But we still hadn’t sold the old place yet. We’d put a lot of work into it, so we figured it would sell quickly. That didn’t happen. In fact, it still hasn’t happened. So things have been tight around here, and there’s been a lot of time and angst spent on the process. This past week, a buyer’s financing fell through, and so what we thought was a done deal was not. Exhausting, mentally.

The disassembly of my workshop also meant I stopped crafting for a while. That meant shields and promised goods for the Citadel at Nordvorn kickstarter were on the “to-do” list until my shop got set up again.

I also re-started training in Hwa Rang Do, so to spend more time with my wife, who’s an instructor. So my schedule changed quite a bit; again with less time.

This isn’t going to end with “so bad things for Gaming Ballistic, boo hoo.” It just has taken a bit to recover.

All the shields and swords are now done. My workshop is set up. Nordvorn is completely delivered, the physical copies from Four Perilous Journeys are due to arrive at Studio 2 before mid-November. And the Nordlond Sagas campaign . . . well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

GURPSDay

The first thing GB was known for, other than all the gun stuff and occasional forays into grappling rules, was GURPSDay. Before I got heavily into publishing, that was every week, like clockwork.

Now, with my schedule on Thursday being “get kids up for school early, and then get back from martial arts late,” it’s become irregular. I mostly get one out weekly, but not always. The 100 blogs (or so) that are part of the list are a bit more irregular too, and readership seems to have fallen off a bit. The giant spike in stats that I used to get isn’t nearly as impressive as it was.

I’ll still do it, but it needs a shot in the arm somehow.

Crowdfunding

Not any campaign in particular, but in general. Phil Reed has been (correctly) lamenting the state of the gaming industry for some time now. Too many projects, with too short a shelf life in folks’ minds. The usual timetable for how Kickstarter was “supposed” to work was

  • A roughly 30-day campaign, ideally suited to cover five weekends, so that there are at least two, maybe three, pay periods in there
  • Two weeks of “waiting for all the money”
  • Ten to 14 days for the primary Backerkit survey, which is there because one usually doesn’t know what shipping will look like until the thing is done

So that’s two full months of administrative time just getting the orders, sweating marketing, and hoping that folks will be using the power of social media networking to talk up your stuff. That doesn’t usually happen for the big guys, much less me.

Even if you’re completely on the ball and the entire project is done when Backerkit closes, the best you can usually do is send the PDFs out that day. You still have these steps to take, if you intend to go to print, which I like to do.

  • Have your backers check the PDFs for errors. They usually find some. That’s a nice 2 weeks minimum.
  • Assemble the final files, spool them out, and wait for art to be done. Again, that could be basically one day, could be more.
  • Send them to print. That’s a month. There’s a lot of surprisingly inactive time here.
  • Then move them around the world. I do a thing where my international books go to the UK, and ship out. That’s a week from Latvia to the UK, and then 1-6 weeks to arrive, depending on the quality of the post. For the USA, it’s supposed to be about a month more, but in reality seems to take more like six weeks, because things are always delayed. Always. Then it’s 2 more weeks for Media Mail to deliver stuff.

That’s another 14 weeks – three full months – before all stuff is in hand. Once the books go to print, though, the “I have so much stuff to do on Project X” period is really over. Starting a new project is not crazy at this point, but you will be paying lots of money for print, ship, and fulfillment during this period. So while the workload is lower, the financial drain is maximum. The biggest individual checks one writes are for printing and shipping. The total project cost is higher for art, but that’s almost always spent on many artists.

Best case, you can do a project every 2.5 months; worst case if you wait for everyone to get their stuff before you start the next one? Two projects a year.

I can’t really turn Gaming Ballistic into a self-sustaining main job at two projects a year. Even five per year isn’t awesome unless each of those gets roughly 2.5-5x as large as they are now. Doing MORE requires something else. I can parallel process more books at once than Kickstarter will allow me to do, since my project management skills are up to the task.

What to do? Well, I’ve got two options here.

One is to explore alternate options. GameOnTabletop is intriguing. One thing is that all the add-ons and whatnot are available right away, in addition to pledging. You know exactly what folks are getting, they’re just set up as items. So the “add a new thing in the middle” that happened with both Four Perilous Journeys and Nordlond Sagas is much easier to handle. I’m getting a better feel for shipping, too. I mean, it still sucks, and costs too much, but I can probably guess what it’ll be in advance of the projects these days, since I now can calculate the weight of books easily due to experience in actually getting them. So it’s a bit of a one-stop shop for that. Cards are charged right away, too, and the fees are lower. Cash flow should be superior to Kickstarter, and you need money to pay writers and artists right away when the work has already begun.

The other possibility is to bring it all in house. There’s a crowdfunding app on WooCommerce. No rules but the ones I make for myself. If I have an idea, I can put it on there and say “pre-order it, and it gets made if we hit the goal.” This provides a powerful market tool, in that if I’ve got several books I want to make, the backers will vote with their dollars on which ones they like, and which ones they don’t. It means I can have rolling funding drives, too. It’s sort of the bastard child of Kickstarter and Patreon. All the IT burden falls on me, but there are real advantages to this method. I may try it out with a single small project to work the bugs out.

Even so, the actual process of crowdfunding is a bit of a slog, since you’re bound to the rules of the other systems you use (KS, Backerkit, GameOnTabletop), and they take their cut. It may only be 5%, but that’s 5% that doesn’t go into developing new cool stuff. A few thousand bucks goes a long way at my scale.

Nordlond Sagas

Still working away at this. The block-and-tackle of Kickstarter and Backerkit should be done. The two small books – Nordlondr Folk and Hand of Asgard – are looking really good. Layout is finished, art is underway. Now it’s time to turn the effort to full-on editing the adventures, which is a big job. Writing tight, technical, entertaining prose takes work, and so the authors and I are in constant contact helping that out.

I’ve got about five weeks to edit and lay out the two adventures. That will get them in a state to have art done, I hope, by the end of December. I’ll admit it . . . that’s starting to look optimistic. Even so . . . time to get to it.

Next Year

The current project will run through the end of the year at least, and I suspect that I will slow down a bit on the back-to-back sprints that has been this year. Even so, there’s at least two major things happening next year, and maybe more than two.

More Perilous Journeys

The first up in 2020 will be the sequel to 2019s very successful effort. The logistics pathways and needs for counter sheets, card decks, and of course the adventures themselves are now well known. Shipping and production time scales and costs are known. I anticipate a much better planned effort this time. Hopefully with content that folks want. I hope that with a few more hoped-for solos, and lots more time to plan and execute the cards and counters, that this will be even more successful than the last one.

The Nordlond Bestiary

This is the big dog of the coming year. I wrote a huge amount of text for the Dragon Heresy RPG back in 2015 and 2016, taking most of the SRD and writing fluff text and stats accordingly for the Norse-inspired world. Well, those efforts have turned to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG…and the words are still there. This is going to be the bestiary folks in the GURPS sphere have been waiting for. A giant book of monsters, thematically unified by the Nordlond setting . . . but any GM worth their salt can port the critters to their own needs. It’s going to take a lot of work to do right, but I’ve got a great team.

Dragon Heresy

Speaking of Dragon Heresy, I do have plans next year of taking some of the existing work – Lost Hall, Nordvorn, Rosgarth, and Forest’s End and pulling them apart to turn them into two different books. One with lots of setting and flavor information, and one with the adventure content. I’m likely to crowdfund these to see if they can garner up enough interest for a profitable print run as well.

DriveThruRPG

I’ve avoided putting my stuff on DriveThru for a while; the bite they take out of revenue is large, and in most cases the print quality of their POD offerings is simply lower than the books I print in Latvia. But in 2020, all my PDFs will go up on DriveThru as well as through other channels. We’ll see what happens there.

Conventions

I’ll be at two conventions early in 2020. The first is Con of the North, here in Minneapolis Feb 14-16. So Happy Valentine’s Day. The second is FnordCon, down in Austin TX. That’s April 3-5.

Shields and Swords

I’ve refined my techniques on these, but they’re only going to be available by special order, through the website. I love making them, and have gotten much, much better at it. But they’re not really on point for the publishing business. Even so, if you’re interested, reach out. They’re not cheap, but the shields in particular are going to be closer to what you might have seen historically (based on certain finds) than most of what you see made of plywood online. Some of those plywood guys cost more than my planked, accurate ones!

Parting Shot

So that’s the recap for Gaming Ballistic. I’m not sure if the work above will be what folks want – I hope so – but it seems like a good plan for 2020. There might be one surprise – and it would be a big, cool one – that could show up later in the year.

It’s a full schedule, but less than I would be able to do if I could get the reach and interest to make my hobby job my day job. That, of course, is on me . . . and we’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ll win the lottery.

 

We just pillaged the $20,000 stretch goal for 128 pages. This makes me happy. Not the least reason for which is the unfinished draft lays out at 115 pages on a 112-page budget. So . . . I don’t  have to cut anything. Thank you all for making this my strongest Kickstarter ever.

As both Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 and The Citadel at Nordvorn enter their final hours (fewer than 12 for DFM2, about 60 as I type this for Nordvorn), it’s time to check and see if what you’ve got listed is really what you want, and (if it’s not) push the proejct to the offset print run by adding what you want NOW rather than in Backerkit.

Add-Ons vs Pledge Levels

Make sure you’re at the most efficient levels. If you’re interested in both print and PDF of both Citadel and Hall of Judgment, the Viking Raider and Retail Viking levels make more sense. If you’re interested in being a sponsor and want both books, you’ll pick one of the sponsor levels, and then plus-up with add-ons.

This is especially important for Fantastic Dungeon Grappling. At least one person has said they want that booklet and nothing else. The best way to make that happen is to pledge at the No Reward level, and make your pledge $4 for PDF, $7 for Print, and $9 for both.

The process for purchasing add-ons is one of adding sufficient “credit” to your pledge to cover your purchases once the Backerkit pledge manager phase goes online – shortly after the KS closes and cards are charged.

Once there, you’ll find your reward level already in your cart, and an option to buy add-ons. Add what you want just like you would on any on-line shopping experience. Shipping (if any) will be applied, and then your credit subtracted and then any balance can be paid with your credit card or other payment scheme accepted by Backerkit.

Let’s Get Physical

Plenty of folks want PDF for games because they’re searchable and don’t take up shelf space. Those are great reasons.

But for those who would love to have a physical book, but are nervous about international shipping, I’ll remind you that I do two print runs for non-offset books. One here in the USA, and another in the UK or EU. In fact, even if we DO an offset run, one of the printing locations for quality offset print is in the EU. So we’ll see!

So if shipping makes you nervous about physical goods . . . Hall of Judgment was $6 to the UK, $9 to the EU, and $12 to everywhere else. These costs are unpredictable, but avoiding the “ship it out of the USA” step helps a ton.

So consider print!

How to get ALL THE VIKING

If you missed the Hall of Judgment Kickstarter, and want all the Dungeon Fantasy RPG that Gaming Ballistic has to offer, you’re looking at getting:

  • Print and PDF of Citadel at Nordvorn ($35)
  • Print and PDF of Hall of Judgment ($30)
  • Print and PDF of Fantastic Dungeon Grappling ($9)
  • At least one FDG Bookmark. ($3 to $35, depending on quantity)

So if you want everything, select Viking Raider, and then pledge $77 (one bookmark) to $109 (25 bookmarks)

Not too late for Retail Viking

Four copies each of Hall of Judgment and Citadel at Nordvorn. Combined with a Retail pledge over on Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2, and you’ve got months of entertainment in a box, with more on the way later this year from Gaming Ballistic!

Bring that to the attention of your Favorite Local Game Store (but do it fast! DFM2 ends at just after 5pm Central Time!)

Add-on Options

You can always buy stuff without adding money here in Backerkit. But if you add now, you help achieve stretch goals.

You will have the options to add the following cool stuff in Backerkit:

  • Extra copies of Citadel ($14 PDF; $28 print; $35 bundle)
  • Fantastic Dungeon Grappling laminated bookmarks ($3 for 1, $10 for 5, $15 for 10, and $35 for 25; bookmarks in quantities of 5+ will be shipped in pages with five different pieces of art on them!)
  • Hall of Judgment ($12.50 PDF; $25 print; $30 bundle). There was an error on the original add-on listing; I’ve reduced the price.
  • Dungeon Grappling ($7.50 PDF; $20 Bundle). Finally, grappling rules that don’t suck for players of That Other Game (5e, OSR, or PFRPG).
  • Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) ($13 PDF; $26 Print; $33 Print+PDF bundle). This is Hall of Judgment pre-converted for you to the Dragon Heresy RPG.
  • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set ($20 PDF; $50 Hardcover Print; $60 Print+PDF bundle). The original system book for the setting being explored in Citadel at Nordvorn and Hall of Judgment. Gorgeous sewn-binding, 3mm cover . . . this is one of the best-printed books you’ll handle. If your friends play 5e but you want more tactical flexibility a la Powered by GURPS . . . this is your jumping off point. May be expensive to ship out of the USA, as all my inventory is in the States.
  • The Battle Shield of Torengar ($500). A hand-made shield made as close to the specs of actual finds as I can make it. Can be up to 35.5″ diameter, will be hide faced-and-backed, and likely 5.5 to 6.5 lbs total. This costs over $1,000 to ship outside the USA (yes, really), so it’s only available in the USA.

Offset Print Run Goal

The last goal that’s within reach (unless we add $10,000 in the next three days!) is the offset print run. Based on past Kickstarter performance . . . it’s not crazy. However, it’s a LOT of books, so the best way to get this done is to ensure lots of physical copies of Citadel are on the list. At some point, stretch goal or no, it’s just cheaper to go for the nicer printing . . . but I need to be ordering well over 600 books to make that work.

But it’s not crazy. 150 folks are PDF only. Nearly 380 people are following the campaign but have not yet backed. That’s an “actual plus latent” amount of nearly $35,000. So even that last stretch goal of 144 pages is not out of reach.

Wouldn’t that be something?

Last night was brilliant! The Lost Hall 2e First Print Stretch Goal was achieved last night!

Digital Print Run: $3,500

The printing will shift from POD to a digital print run. This will still be a softcover, perfect-bound book, but the paper and print quality is upgraded to the same 140gsm/93# Arrow Silk paper used in Hall of Judgment.

The bottom is maybe 1mm thicker than the LHoT2e will be unless the book grows a bit, which I don’t think it will.

Next Goal: $6,000 for Offset Print

It’s true, it’s a reach. We need $2400 more . . . and yet that is only 78 more people. It’s a challenge, but it’s not crazy. Sure, there’s a bit of irrational exuberance in my projections, but we still have 138 following the campaign who haven’t jumped in.

So the potential is there.

That version will be amazing. 105# paper will bulk up the spine a bit. Heavy softcover with a lay-flat binding.

And the book will be able to go into distribution and sit on retail shelves next to the core book. 

That last one is probably more important for me than for you. But there it is: it’s the sort of thing that makes the game more accessible, more popular, and allows me to keep developing content in advance of any crowdfunding.

So: please share our victory with your social network, and invite them on board. It really does help!

Add-Ons

As a further enticement, a reminder of the add-ons available. I’m linking to my website for more information . . . but if you like what you see, please go to the Kickstarter to order them!

Dragon Heresy Introductory Set

($38 Print; $15 PDF; $46 HC+PDF)

The core rules supporting Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition), the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set is a substantially modified variant on the Fifth Edition ruleset (SRD5.1 under the OGL). It includes more details on Torengar and Etera, the background world for Lost Hall, as well as a complete, self-contained game for Level 1-5 play. The game introduces rules for wounds vs vigor to distinguish between blood and grit, great mechanics for shields and grappling, rules for flyting, social standing, and more. If you don’t have it, this is a great time to pick it up.

Note: this is a 3.1-lb book and they’re all in the USA; international shipping of a hardcover is likely to be expensive. You can see the print quality I’m shooting for below: my 288-page Dragon Heresy book is rather thicker and better put together than the 320-page comparison volume.

Dungeon Grappling

($12 Print; $6 PDF; $15 Print+PDF)

Gaming Ballistic’s very first product, and still the best grappling rules on the market (in fairness, it’s a low bar). Finally bring grappling rules that don’t suck to the table for Fifth Edition, the Pathfinder RPG, and Swords & Wizardry.

Dungeon Grappling makes grappling fun again, especially for the GM and their monsters, by introducing the “control” damage type and working throw how to apply it for both armed and unarmed grapples. And tentacles. And nets.

Seamlessly move between armed combat and grappling . . . just like they did in the old days of Fiori, Talhoffer, and other historical fighting manuals.

The Battle Shield of Torengar ($650)

Just for fun, I will hand-build for you a mostly-authentic viking-style center-gripped shield. Made of quarter-sawn poplar wood, with a hand-carved oak handle, mild steel boss, and faced, backed, and edged with goat rawhide, it’s put together with hide glue, and tapered at the edges. Who doesn’t want their own Viking-style shield, made to historical dimensions? Make an impression at your next staff meeting.

You’ll also receive print and PDF copies of all four of my printed books.

If you pledge at this level (or buy one as an add-on), I’ll contact you and we can work out the details of size and how you want it painted. The shield will likely weigh about 4.5-7 lbs, depending on our mutually-agreed-upon specs.

This is only available in the USA, because even inside the USA, this is horrifically expensive to ship!  

A few prior samples below. They are (and the plain black one, which is the hide-covered shield painted with authentic milk-based paint with charcoal pigment) my Asfolk training shields. Each weighs 6 lbs. 

Last Words

I’m so excited to see the first important stretch goal fall. The print run is huge for Gaming Ballistic, and I hope that some of the few hundred folks either following or who’ve bought my products in the past will come on board in this last half-day of the campaign.

Until then: you’ve made me happy and proud. You guys are going to get a great book.

Prelude

 

I’d been looking for a long time to find a source of very thin hide to try and face-and-back a shield. I had been told by my instructor at Asfolk Viking Martial Arts school that the evidence for a hide-faced shield was hit and miss; some were most likely raw wood, some were rimmed with hide and stitched, some may have been faced, etc. As with most things Viking, the relative paucity of physical artifacts means that every new find brings new and exciting information.

Nonetheless, if you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ve seen my learning the craft of making shields bit by bit, and that I also offer them for sale. One thing that always eluded me – mostly due to a lack of a good source for the hide – was the “parchment-thick” hide that my instructor says would have been used. I use goat hide claimed at 1 oz thickness (about 0.5mm thick) for the edges, but those hides are not large enough to cover a full-sized shield.

My existing “red” shield has been in use for quite a while now, and the edging, though one of my earlier trials, has held up well. I also made a pair of “three fox” shields, one as light as I could make it (less than 5 lbs!) of aspen, with a very light stainless steel boss (5 oz) so that the jarl of the Viking Encampment at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival could march with it, and a much more robust one of poplar, edged in deer hide, with a too-thick robust boss. Even so, that one came in at 7 lbs, which was several pounds lighter than her prior shield, which was too heavy for both performance and parade use.

Nonetheless, I wanted to try one of my own.

Continue reading “Crafting: Hide-faced Viking Shield Experiment”

Bit by bit, I’ve been working out how to improve my viking shields. My poplar edged shield that I made for myself is 5.75 lbs and about 34-34.5″ in diameter, and is still holding up strong after probably a year. Even so, there are issues with it that later commissions have fixed, but not for this one. It was my first attempt using goat hide for edging, and I hadn’t gotten the trick of keeping the edging flat and flush with the edges. The stitching is far too wide per stitch, and of course I re-used a boss that I had with a terribly wide flange, probably making the thing 1/2 lb heavier than it should be.

For all that, it’s a good shield. Still: I want to try a new one. Why? Read on. Continue reading “Viking Shield Upgrade Experiment”

Greetings, fellow Torengur! We’re entering the third weekend of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter, and things look pretty good.

Another Skjald-hirð Joins the Battle!

We had a great day yesterday, driven largely by another stalwart joining the ranks of the Skjald-hirð. He’s asked for a sweet, sweet paint job on his shield, too. Dark blue background, with a gold torc, one boar-head, one deer-head, holding the Ingwaz rune between them. All of these symbolize Freyr, who is Yngwi Lifegiver in Dragon Heresy.

This is a personal shield project I just finished, and except the boss (which I used because I had it; it’s too heavy and too large by far), is a good example of what the shields will look like. The heads here are dragon heads. I can do boars, ravens, dragons, bears, stags, and wolves.

The dragon-torc of house Iyiling
The dragon-torc of house Iyiling

The ansuz-rune is the rune of the Asfolk martial arts school at which I’m learning viking-style fighting. You can see the school and me throwing an axe here in the designer’s notes video.

Progress

In the background things are moving in terms of production. I got the first edits from Vince in the mail yesterday, looked them over, and found them worthy. He’s tightening up my language and poking at holes in the thought process.

The entire pre-production team: layout, editing, and indexing, is now being brought in on the communications so we can parallel process the assembly and finalization of the book.

That being said, there are things yet to do, by me, from a writing perspective.

  • I’ve got a neat idea for a way to differentiate between combat prowess and reputation and status. Think of it as an alternate take on “gold for XP” from the old-school days.
  • I am determined to write and add a small section on flyting – a poetic ritual exchange of insults common in viking lore and culture that provides another avenue to victory other than murder-hoboism. Between fisticuffs, weapons, grappling, and flyting, there are many options for dispute and challenge resolution in Dragon Heresy, which is outstanding.
  • Finally, I’m going through the monster section and adding “Identify Fiend or Foe” blocks, where the GM will be provided suggestions for tactically useful elements that can be known about monsters and other foes based on background and skill level.

All of this will be worked into the book, and much of it is already budgeted in terms of space and layout, so that won’t change the basic 256-page book size.

Stretch Goals

As of me typing this, the campaign is just shy of $700 off the $10,000 “more content” stretch goal. If we pass it, I’ll send out a survey to backers with some options of what I can include, which will push the size of the book upward a bit.

Once the ship is completed, what fine adventures we will have!I’m not quite ready to formally re-arrange my published stretch goals yet . . . but some quotes came in from printers that were very compelling. Very.

This has led me to look at options for standard and deluxe printing for the Jarl and Styðja tiers that may take a few more days to lock down.

I’ll tell you this, though: the numbers $12,000 and $16,000 are very significant. There’s another point at about $14,500 that’s significant to me as a publisher but not so much to y’all as backers.

I’m iterating with a few different folks on super-cool things to add for your pledge to the $100 tier. Faux-leather covers, or custom slip-cover, or just a deluxe printing with a dust jacket are all being considered. No decisions yet, and being that it’s bearing down hard on quitting time in the EU (all of the super-aggressive bids are from either the UK or Latvia) on a Friday, I might not be able to confirm much before early next week.

But I’m looking for ways to make both the Jarl and Styðja levels even more appealing. Skjald-hirð backers will get anything the Styðja level gets, of course!

The Final Countdown

This it is, and we’re into single digits. Now it’s in the hands of the Norns.

We’re tracking to around $14,000 if things keep on as they’ve been and we hit an uptick the last few days, which is typical. I still hope we can see enough acceleration to hit that offset print goal – I won’t lie to you: I dream of holding that book as specified in my hands!

For now, have a great weekend, and may all your raids be profitable!

In the USA, April 15th is Tax Day, the day by which one must file their income tax return

From right now until April 15th ends, I will offer a special “Tax Shield” offer on the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter.

If you pledge at the Skjald-hirð level between now and the end of April 15th, you will receive a $50 credit in Backerkit once the campaign ends.

These are pretty close to what the skjald-hirð level gets. The one on the right is my new personal shield, with an extra-large boss I happened to have on hand due to a mistake of the “measure twice, cut once” variety early on in my career.

The one on the left is about 31″ in diameter, good for someone about 5′ – 5’6″, and will be donated to a charity fund-raiser. I’ve got another shield in the works that’s a lower-level model than these (no rawhide edging, but yes stitching) that will also be donated.

I was on a lot of podcasts this week. All different. Our discussion with Eric F on “martial arts in old-school games” was a different type of discussion than the “get deep into the mechanical weeds” with Chris S. Matt and David were both very interested in specifics on shields, while the second part of my discussion with Derek was about getting into, and staying into, the game design space.

A friend of mine told me that he was impressed I managed to cover substantially the same general territory with enough differences to make each podcast worth listening to without being repetitive.

Of course, that has a lot to do with my hosts . . .

Podcast Palooza

Each of these is pretty worth listening to, even if I say so myself.

First, I was on The Established Facts with Derek Knutsen-Frey, whom I’ve gotten to know through the IGDN. We had a long chat divided in two parts: a bunch on Dragon Heresy, and then 45 minutes on game publishing as a business.

The always-awesome James Introcaso hosted me for a while on Table Top Babble, and we mostly talked about Dragon Heresy

Chris Sniezak and I got deep into the depths of the game mechanics

Jason Hobbs had me and Eric Farmer on at the same time, and our take was more broad. Can you do “martial arts” in Old-School systems? What does that even mean?

Matt Finch and I had a great chat, and he was absolutely enthusiastic about the materials, construction, and use of period weaponry, and egged me on effectively.

Finally, I was on with Nerdarchy Dave for a live discussion and chat, and I had a great time talking with him and taking questions

Viking, Shields, and Design Intent

Over the weekend and the last few days, I filmed a bit of “Doug talking, mostly about Viking” as something like a “Designer’s Notes,” or really, just talking about the inspiration for the game.

In this particular case, shields had to be more useful than the +5-10% decrease in hit chance that game stats show. I decided to try and find some Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) classes local to me to find out, and lo and behold, I found Asfolk. Not only was it “using a shield,” it was “using a Viking shield,” which fit in with the themes I was exploring for Dragon Heresy.

I talk a lot about shields on my blog, both for D&D5 type games, as well as GURPS, and general principles as well.

I think you’ll find Dragon Heresy adds just the right amount of cool options to go along with the shield in the game.

A Nice Compliment

David Pulver is a prolific game writer, and we’ve corresponded about things for a while. Heck, he’s working on a game with Gaming Ballistic, called Venture Beyond. In any case, he has seen some of the early rules and layout work, and he dropped this nice little compliment on my blog. I repeat it with his permission:

“I’m very pleased this is happening at last!

When you showed me the manuscript, one thing besides the new combat options that I was really impressed with was the new rules you added to 5e for marching, exposure, hunting, and so on – I liked the strategic options (trading speed for stealth, etc.) which is good game design. They seemed a lot more detailed and interesting then I recall from D&D (and a lot more playable than anything similar in GURPS). I suspect I might use them even if I wasn’t running a Viking game…”

Next Stretch Goal

Well, we’ve pretty much crushed the $3,500 basic funding goal. I like crushing goals.

The next two are kinda out there. The $10K goal is definitely within reach, and while projections are always uncertain, if we have a few more good days like we just did, we’ll pass the “more content” goal mid-campaign.

If we do, I’ll send out a poll and let folks force-rank what additional inclusions there will be. There are three more extra races, at least a dozen backgrounds, and of course both classes and archetypes/sub-classes ready for inclusion in that sweet spot from Level 1-5. If the time comes, the backers choose the new content!

Beyond that, there’s the offset color print run, hanging out there at $16,000. Truth be told, that’s the one I really want to hit, because I’ve always dreamed of Dragon Heresy getting the kind of quality print job that Symbaroum, ACKS, or the Dracula Dossier’s Director’s Handbook got.

Talk to you guys soon!

And with a mighty pledge, backer Mark S takes us well into final territory!

That’s it. We’ve crossed the goal, and if we keep on this trajectory, I will begin letting contracts to get the work needed to complete the book going.

the “real” shields will be slightly different than the above:

  • I have secured an awesome source for more historically accurate bosses. Mild steel, proper weight, pressed rather than spun.
  • The hide edging will be 1oz goathide instead of 2-4 oz deer hide. More historical on the thickness and weight.

Thanks to you all for your contributions so far, and let’s spread the word and keep it up!