Lost Hall of Tyr is coming to Dragon Heresy

In a few days, I’ll launch the Kickstarter for Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition).

This is a somewhat unusual crowdfunding effort, in that there are really only two or three things I’m trying to do here. The order of the funding goals for the campaign changed while I was thinking about it, in order to maximize success and deliver the best product folks want.

  1. Upgrade the digital/stock asset combat maps with Glynn Seal’s stylistically great pen-and-ink drawings
  2. Upgrade from POD to high-quality digital printing
  3. A large-scale, softcover print run from an offset printer
  4. If possible, a large-scale hardcover print run so the books match the Dragon Heresy core book

In short, the purpose of the campaign is to make a spectacular print run, worthy of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set‘s production values. And provide a companion module to sit on the shelf on stores next to the Dragon Heresy core book.

Why a Second Edition

Quite simply, the expansion of Lost Hall 1e into the Dungeon Fantasy RPG version “Hall of Judgment” made the book better in every way. Art. Maps. Setting details. The publication and distribution of Dragon Heresy meant that I had a great core book out there with no support. Lost Hall 1e made for a great convention scenario but not a great long-term campaign.

So I’m reformatting the new content for the 8.5×11″ form factor of Dragon Heresy, and revising it for the Dragon Heresy rules.

Got the Lost Hall PDF already?

If you have already purchased the Lost Hall of Tyr 1st Edition PDF, you’ll be getting a copy of the new edition for free. If you got it on DriveThru, you’ll likely get a link on DriveThru. If you bought it from my website, you’ll get a link from there, or an email.

This crowdfunding effort is only for the print copy. It’s going to be a great looking book, especially in hardcover. I’ve selected 105#/157gsm matte-coated art paper for the interior, and 2.5mm boards. The overall 112-page book will likely thus be about a half-inch thick, and will in all cases have either a lay-flat and smyth-sewn binding.

The book will also have a new cover – and a first-pass of it can be seen to the right. Juan wasn’t entirely happy with it, though, so it’ll be revised during the Kickstarter to make it even better.

June? Really?

I’m allowing lots of time in case we actually hit the stretch goals to do the maps and hit the offset print run. That’s really it. I hope to have it sooner than June, but Dragon Heresy took a long time to get done. The results were worth it, but they were time consuming.

This is the intended schedule. 
  • December 2018: Kickstarter campaign
  • January 2019: Funds settle, Backerkit phase; prelim PDF distribution for error proofing; new maps worked
  • Feb 2019: PDF finalization and print order submission; final PDF distribution
  • March-May 2019: Print overseas; transit to warehouse; fulfillment
  • June 2019: Delivery of hardcopy product to backers 

Retail and Bulk Order

The top tier is four copies each of Dragon Heresy and the new Lost Hall of Tyr. This is designed for stores, but thinking about it . . . if you want lots of them, you can have lots of them. I’m not closing this off from personal purchases: if you’re a store? Great. Please let me know! If you’re a person and you want to buy a bunch of them for whatever reason? Awesome.

Please Support Gaming Ballistic

I’ve got big plans for 2019, and Lost Hall 2e is the first of four products I hope to release supporting the Dragon Heresy line. Three of those four are being written right now, and two of them are from “not me,” which means other authors are stepping up to the plate. Support for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG will continue as well, with each adventure being available in two versions (not dual-statted), with an appropriate form factor for each line: 8×10 softcover for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, and (ideally, with your support), 8.5×11 hardcover for Dragon Heresy.

Please help spread the word, let your local gaming stores know about Dragon Heresy and this Kickstarter, and with your help, 2019 is only the beginning.

The Kickstarter Preview is Now Live!

And we’re done!

At least I hope so!

This morning I dropped off about 40 books into the mail, which means that all but one order – and that one is an international order – is complete. I’ll take care of that one with TheDiceLatte in Korea over the next day or so.

Including today, this means that the usual 10 days of media mail will bring us to Halloween. October 31 . . . meaning that I can chalk Dragon Heresy as my fourth “on time or early” Kickstarter, preserving my 100% hit rate.

Thanks to everyone for supporting this project.

A Request

I’ve been getting some nice emails or quick Tweets about the book, which of course, I appreciate greatly. Even better would be a fast review on a social media site or forum, even better attached to a play report. It’s a non-trivial ask, I grant, but the more folks curious about Dragon Heresy and who buy books, the more support I can give to the line! (More on that later.)

Favorite Local Heretical Gaming Store

As a result of breaking through to the last stretch goal, I’m in possession of about 1,300 copies of Dragon Heresy that I’d obviously love to move out and get into folks’ hands. So bring your own copy by your Favorite Local Gaming Store, and they can either order from me directly or the books will be available via Studio 2 come December. I think the books will have great shelf presence, and if your game store owner contacts me, we can work out an appropriate retail discount if you want to order from be before then.

What next?

Well, the very first thing will be to provide a bit of adventure support. Originally, Lost Hall of Tyr was a convention module I ran for 5e at GENCON 50, and then published it as a 64-page supplement.

I approached Steve Jackson Games about converting it to The Dungeon Fantasy RPG (Powered by GURPSand to my surprise and pleasure, they said yes, and we announced Hall of Judgment for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG in April. In doing the conversion, I also expanded it to be more of a micro-setting rather than a linear convention romp. It grew to 128 pages, with more detail around the city, three additional dungeons/locations, and tweaked-out new rules.

Well, I’m going to be converting the larger version of Hall of Judgment back into Lost Hall of Tyr, 2nd Edition (for Dragon Heresy). I’ve already got a preliminary layout, and the new edition will support play at Level 1-5 for Dragon Heresy. Any who already have the PDF will get a free upgrade; I can’t upgrade the print copies, as I’m sure you understand.

I’ve also been asked about mid-tier play. Well, there’s good news and a challenge there. The good news is that I’ve got another two races (elves and gnomes), several classes that didn’t make it into the Introductory Set (Ranger, Paladin, Warlock, Monk, Sorcerer), 16 more backgrounds, and of course the spells lists that go along with them. Those need to be edited and laid out, but they already exist.

The challenge is art. I’ve used and re-used quite a bit of the original art I’d had commissioned for my first four products, and I’ve had quite enough of that. So there will need to be new art to go into this expansion. I’d also like the product to sit next to the Introductory Set on retail shelves, which means an offset print run!

Those would require money. I’ll rough out what it would need, and see if we can fit a crowdfunding campaign into what is shaping up to be a very exciting and busy 2019.

Fit in? Yeah. I’m not ready to announce yet, but expect even more support for the world of Dragon Heresy in 2019, and not just written by my hand. I can’t wait for the announcement, but a few things are pending that need to happen first.

So stay tuned . . . and I hope that I can continue to make things happen over the next 14 – 18 months for you.

Thanks again!

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”

What Now?

Breathing is good and important. It’s been a real sprint here at Gaming Ballistic since April 1. That day, SJG and Gaming Ballistic announced the conversion of Lost Hall of Tyr to the Dungeon Fantasy RPGand the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set went live on Kickstarter.

Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment

A month later, I’d met the goal for an offset print run, and got busy – very busy – finishing up the PDF for Dragon Heresy. The PDF went out to backers on June 17; the printable PDF (higher resolution but flat file with no hyperlinks) went to AsiaPacific Offset on June 18. The Hall of Judgment Kickstarter launched June 19.

That one was my best Kickstarter yet. More backers than any of my prior projects by a long way, and frankly, a better “mix ratio” of print to PDF than other projects as well. Nearly 2/3 of backers wanted a physical copy of the book. My best estimates put that mix at 50%. Also: there were 1,587 backers of the box set RPG: 1/3 of that number is 529, which is coincidentally exactly the same number of backers that Hall of Judgment got. Since the typical group seems to be about 5 people including the GM, really anything more than a 20% hit rate is amazing, and Hall of Judgment did quite a bit better than that!

Fulfillment

The Dragon Heresy books are “on the water,” and should arrive at Studio 2 on October 8. I’ll get a sub-shipment of 320 books a few days later, so by the end of that week, I hope to have all domestic books in the mail, which means that with little room to spare, the “October” promised delivery date for all rewards will be met.

The first two cartons of Hall of Judgment (about 120 books) arrived at my house yesterday, and all of them but a few have been boxed up and mailed off already. The remaining five cartons should arrive at my house by noon today, and I will begin the process of finishing up shipment there. Folks will start receiving their books next week, then, and might extend into the 3rd week of September. The promised delivery date for rewards was August; some of our not-the-USA friends did actually get their physical copies in the trailing days of August, and I apologize to the US crowd for the month of delay. I do think, however, having finally held the book in my hands, that you will be pleased.

That does mean, though, that I’ve been hard at it for six months straight. It’s been a wee bit of a sprint, especially with a day job. But now my kids are back in school again and my schedule should be normalizing. I hope. That means my breather, such as it is, is over. Continue reading “A Pause to Breathe: OK, that’s done”

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

Lots of things going on, all at once.

Dragon Heresy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hall of Judgment

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

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

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

Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr

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

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

New Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy Advance Copies Arrive!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fold and Gather samples for Dragon Heresy are here!

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

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

Without further blather on my part: pictures.

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

Lots more pictures below the break…

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

There are some parts of the production of a book that are just no fun at all.

I’m in a few of those parts.

Hall of Judgment

Oh, sure . . . it’s getting done. Bit by bit. I should have another major revision to Hall of Judgment done either late tonight or tomorrow. Hopefully tonight (assuming my cat gets off my manuscript, but there are fairly sure-fire fixes for that).

But this is the part where you read . . . each . . . word . . . carefully to make sure things are just right, and you still manage to miss stuff.

But what’s going on and changed from last time?

  • Lots of revisions to the Backer Credits
  • Updated the front matter to hopefully include all my contributors
  • Updated all of Glynn’s maps to tweak out a few things, like labels
  • Lots of final editing and small corrections
  • Removed some DnD-isms from things
  • Rewriting some descriptives to ensure they jive with the evolving monster bits
  • Completely re-did the cover . . . and got word from the printer that it looks pretty good

There might be other things too. But I still feel like I’m on track to deliver the finished product to backers next week, on schedule.

Dragon Heresy

We’re in a bit of a dead zone here. The “F&G” (Fold and Gather) milestone “should be” coming up by Friday. If those are OK (and I’m not sure if I get samples or no), I give the “OK to bind” with the first advanced copies of the book arriving to me at the end of the first full week in August. If that’s what I think it is, it’ll be the first time I hold Dragon Heresy as it’s meant to be (well, as the Introductory Set is meant to be!) in my hands. That will be a good day.

Other Things

As with many others, I was saddened to hear that business conditions have led to the shuttering (at least temporarily, but plan for the worst, hope for the best applies) of Pyramid Magazine.

I got my start there, and in a very real way, a succession of Pyramid editors taught me how to write and organize text. I list my 13 Pyramid articles proudly on my resume, and in no small part, I know that my history with Pyramid plus my playtesting org skills got me the nod to be the first third-party publisher for the DFRPG.

It served as a garden where the seeds of future authors were sown and watered, and those of us that had been published there would frequently go out of our way to help others. For 25 years, it was a monthly dose of GURPS and Powered by GURPS.

Alas, and farewell.

Hall of Judgment Character and Monster Templates taking shape

I’ve been working on the writing, which is now in the “I have something for everything” stage, and now turning to editing and converting from Fifth Edition/Dragon Heresy to the DFRPG/Powered by GURPS stats and difficulties. That starts, well, now.

The other big thing I did was structure the creature and pre-gen templates in InDesign. This was (and will continue to be) laborious, but there’s nothing to be done about that.

In any case, here’s a preview. Starting with one of the Pre-Gen characters that will appear in the book, using the Wrestler template from Pyramid #3/111

And a sample monster, with bonus stock art from the always excellent Dean Spencer

Things may indeed shift around, but I kinda like ’em both.