So . . . close

I’ve spent a good few days working on the proof copy as well as the digital files. I posted an errata list on my blog, and have managed to adjust all of those. I also went through and tweaked some things – such as ensuring spell names were in italics, re-inserting some em-dashes where space-endash-space was used, and unifying the look of hyperlinks with the print and PDF files. I’m happy with the print file at this point, and have re-uploaded it to DriveThruRPG. If that’s accepted (sometime next week) I will lock down the physical copy and get things moving for international deliveries.

For US-deliveries for print, the internal file is the same as DriveThruRPG, which is easy. The cover file is not, because the templates for the printers are different. I’ll finish that up tonight, and order a proof copy from PubGraphics. Because the files aren’t exactly the same, it’ll make me feel better to have a physical one before I mass-order.

Also this weekend, I’ll go through and add/validate bookmarks for the PDF.

Speaking of PDF, I want to draw attention to something wonderful Todd did at my request, but he pulled it off wonderfully.
Continue reading “Lost Hall of Tyr: Inching Towards Final Release”

Form Factor Poll Results

So, a project that’s been percolating for quite a while has roughly doubled in size. My original plan was to have it be on the order of a 176-page digest format book, because, hey, neat! Digest!

Well, my rationale was a bit more sophisticated than that, but not that much. But the project has grown in scope, and that might engender a re-think of layout and format. Anyway, long story less long, I took a poll. Perhaps I should not have been surprised by the results, but I was.

The poll drew a lot of interest, though of course it was self-selecting, as are all polls. But of those that answered – and a sample of nearly 150 isn’t bad – the biggest conclusion I could draw right off the bat was boy am I glad I have to rethink the layout.

Still, the basic conclusion for the specs I gave, which assumes a 100,000-word manuscript, is that for a book that size, folks like letter format (or possibly A4, but I suspect it’s really “letter”) or 6×9 . . . and the uncommon 8×10 beats out the Digest/A5 formats by quite a bit.

Huh, and huh again.

There were some comments that bear addressing, too. Again: self-selection applies. Continue reading “RPG Book Form Factor – Musings and a Poll”

Last week I sat down with James Introcaso again, and spoke for more than an hour on grappling, Dungeon Grappling, how to publish a game, and how I approach running a Kickstarter, especially as a newbie.

It was a fun interview, and James is a great interlocutor.

Check it out!

TableTop Babble – 040 – 5e Sci Fi and Kickstarter Advice

The blog has been very quiet recently. But in the background . . .

I have a 19,000-word manuscript for my GenCon scenario. Renamed Domstollinn: Lost Hall of Tyr, it’s ready to go to layout.

I’ve got a layout person, who will likely sign our contract tomorrow, and then get to work. We’ve got some discussion of graphical elements and color palette to handle first, I think, but his projects are so very pretty I hate to interfere too much.

I have a line on at least one cover artist. For Dungeon Grappling, the cover came last. This time, it comes first, because I like having nice covers.

I reached out to a few dozen more artists I got cards from at GenCon. They’re slowly responding to my pings, but they’re expensive, by and large. If you do well enough to go to GenCon, buy a booth, work it, sell stuff, and make money – and most of these guys assuredly do that well – you’re going to be on the high end of the price curve.

I’m going to try and get a few more bids for the cover from some folks I’ve not contacted yet. I’m trying to reach out to folks I’ve not worked with before, so when The Big Project comes around, folks know what they’re getting into with me, for better or (hopefully not) for worse.

I condensed Dungeon Grappling into a one-page cheat sheet for inclusion into the back of the adventure. It’s not the full book; not all options are on, and some subtleties are deliberately not included. But you can run the system with the one-pager, which is no mean feat.

This has kept me very, very busy. But things are moving, and I hope to start assembling for a Kickstarter in early October. I’m strongly considering a Ransom Model, where if I hit a certain funding target, I will release the document as Pay What You Want, with the hopes that folks will contribute significantly to simply making the book pretty as hell. I’ve got other stretch goals in mind. Fantasy Grounds and/or Roll20 support (though I would need a lot of help with either; that’s not my forte) for one.

I think that the bare minimum, a laid-out file with no art to speak of other than some necessary encounter maps, will run about $3,000. To push the art content up but not hit the magic 32- or 48-page “offset efficiency” numbers I’d need about $6,000. For $8500 I double the art content in the book. At $12,000 I do all that and get paid for my efforts.

We’ll see. Some of the lower aspirations are definitely reachable. The higher ones will require something to hit.

I’m looking for some names and recommendations for what I hope will be a quick-turn project.

What is it?

Domstallin: Lost Hall of Tyr is what became of my “Grappling Smackdown” demo that I ran at the IGDN game hall for GenCon. I have expanded it into a full, if linear, scenario.

What’s the status?

The manuscript stands at 16,571 words, and I expect it to change a bit as I finalize the document. It has already been copy edited by John Adamus. I expect to have the true “final” manuscript ready to rock by the end of this weekend.

The manuscript is in Word 2013, in .docx format, and has extensive use of Styles for easier import.

Oh, you want to know more?

Continue reading “Looking for a Layout Pro for a fast-turn project”

Well, well. That GenCon 2-hour demo has turned into a 16,500 word first draft. I got some good feedback during the sessions, and still more afterwards. I think the flow is better, and it’s got a lot more meat to it.

What’s left to do?

  • I need to de-Dragon Heresy the SRD monster writeups. That’s pretty easy.
  • I need to write some random encounter tables. ACKS shows me the way there, as well as numerous OGL and online resources for what’s good. Really, I just need a few tables. Encounter type, and then some sub-tables for specifics. Animal, fae, weather/hazard, etc. It’s all hills/mountain terrain.
  • I need basic sketches for encounter areas and key art pieces. Not exactly art direction, but close.
  • I will try pouring the file into one of the two already-done layout templates I have in InDesign to see how it looks. Since the scenario is made to go with Dungeon Grappling (but can certainly be run without it!) I might default to that template.

One of the Kickstarter goals (and there will be a Kickstarter, oh yes) will be a fresh, purpose-built layout.

And I’ve got a great editor lined up, with preliminary agreement to start work tomorrow if The Legal Guys come through and get the contract into the signing program. So more tomorrow on that, I hope.

Writing is not always mechanical, nor is it always something that is amenable to a fixed structure.

But sometimes, perhaps even many times, it is. And game writing is technical writing for the most part, and that means structure, clarity, and ensuring the right information is conveyed.

For the Tower of Justice scenario I’m finishing up right now, that means that something was missing up until today. And thanks to a timely brainstorm over on the GURPS discord chat, that thing which was missing was a certain “be sure this information is in each part of the scenario” structure.

Things are going very well now. The organization ensures that each piece of the scenario will get equal treatment on paper, rather than easy treatment and improv in my head. Nothing wrong with improv! But if you’re buying a scenario, it’s likely because you want the bases covered for you so you either (a) have a good basis by which to improvise, or (b) don’t have to improvise in the first place.

In any case: structure is good. Having one means  you know what you’re leaving behind when you break that structure, too.

Wow. Big month.

Went to GenCon. Can find blog posts on that kickin’ around. I learned a lot, gamed a lot, and networked a lot. I still have to catalog the mighty stack of artists’ business cards I got.

I sold about 10 copies of Dungeon Grappling. That was good; more would be better.

To rectify that, I am hurtling towards releasing my adventure scenario that I ran at GenCon as a product. It’s designed to be used with Dungeon Grappling, but will be a viable 5e scenario on its own. I will almost certainly Kickstart it, and it will almost certainly be relatively low buy-in. There’s a high upper end on what I’d like to do with it (full color art is always a goal of mine), but even as-is, I can use the Dungeon Grappling layout template and re-use existing art. I have some outdoor maps, and will be needing some encounter-level maps as well. But more is better, and the fun thing here is that I can work with some of the exiting new artists I met at GenCon. Look for that pretty soon. Of the roughly 15,000-word budget I’ve given myself (32 pages), 14,000 are already written. I’ve got an editor lined up, with a mutual agreement on the work, and that’s exciting too.

Dragon Heresy continues to make progress. So does Venture Beyond. VB is getting closer and closer to “first complete draft” though it’s way over wordcount estimates. That’s not horrid, but it might change how I go about things. It might not, though. Plus, there’s the option of seeing what folks groove on and what they don’t in playtest/blindtest. It’s going to be a very, very cool product line, but “we serve no fries before their time” applies. I have a day job so I don’t have to worry about publishing before things are ready.

Otherwise, I’m cranking hard on the adventure writing, and hope to get that into editing and more playtest soon.

Also: I took delivery of more inventory from CreateSpace. But much of it was flawed. 8 of 25 had mistakes on the cover (was cut wrong), and all of them were only so-so binding quality. So once I get that replaced (they’re printing and shipping them now), there will be a buy one from my website, get a second (flawed, but signed!) physical copy free offer that pops up for the classic “limited time only.”

I found an interesting feature in MS Word that might change how I edit documents in the future.

It’s the “Compare Documents” feature. Take two files, say, Original and Edited Copy. Then insert them into the grinder, and out pops a marked-up document just as if you did the “one line at a time” thing with Track Changes on.

In short, if I’m editing, I can just make the changes I want to make. No notes, just change stuff.

Then I can go back, re-read without all the markup, see how it sounds.

Then when I get satisfied, I can use Compare Document and each change will be automatically called out. If I need or want to make notes, I can do it in the final. I can even send co-authors both copies, a clean one and a marked-up one, with no fuss. If I need to make annotations “I did it this way because . . . ” I can do it in a final “explanatory” pass.

I will be trying this on my next manuscript. We’ll see how it goes.

Note: This isn’t new. It’s not even technically new to me, having done this exact thing for Reasons for a colleague at work. But doing it this way in order to edit a manuscript cleanly and then give my collaborator something that calls out changes was a likely-belated realization and potential time-saver.

 

I was invited by Jasyn Jones and John McGlynn to join them on their Geek Gab podcast to talk about Dungeon Grappling, after I posted my GenCon reports about the playtest.

Well, yeah, we covered grappling. But we also covered GURPS, the DFRPG, game design principles, and many other things, including HEMA and how useful first-hand research can be if you can do it. Roland Warzecha’s Dimicator videos got honorable mention. We talked a lot of 5e, some Pathfinder, a bit of Fate, and WEG’s d6 and GUMSHOE got a nod. I talked quite a bit about Dragon Heresy.

I had a great time, and we spoke for about 75 minutes. I talk kinda fast, but I don’t think I was incoherent, so yay.

Anyway: enjoy!