Stretch Goal Approaching Rapidly

As of right now, we are only $160 from passing the “Additional Content” Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter stretch goal at $10,000, and the odds that we will pass that goal given a full week left seem good.

With that in mind, here are the options that will fill up the survey for “what do you want included?”

Notes

  • I have room for about 9,900 additional words, give or take
  • ALL the backgrounds together are about 9,400 words
  • There is no way to include ALL of the new classes
  • The new spellcasting classes will come with additional spells (of course) that are NOT included in wordcount.
  • The Warlock in particular will be particularly ugly; if this is a top choice other things may go by the wayside
  • The example of the Runic Barbarian has already appeared in an update/blog post
  • Most of the additional rules content falls into the category of highly optional rules. They’ll go into a section called “AppendX” as in “X-perimental”
  • The skald is a nordic bard; the trevinur is a nordic druid. Sorta.
  • The ranger is NOT a spellcaster or a shape-changer. There are scouts and skirmishers. If you want magic-using rangers you’ll want multi-classing

So, that’s it. The survey will ask that you give me your favorite 8,000-10,000 words to include. I’ll see what I can do to automate it a bit.

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: List of Additional Content Possibilities”

Access is one of the more jealously guarded privileges in hierarchical systems, and social standing reinforced status, but also kept the big dogs ideally focused on the issues they need to be concerned with. Details of policy and realm health, maurauding fae raids, and magical curses. The important stuff.

The rules below are a revision of a new insertion to the Dragon Heresy set, and seemed like a good idea when in my recent streaming play the 1st-level characters seemed bound and determined to head off to see the hajarl or a merchant prince personally. I deflected it in play by having a lower-rank NPC, who happened to be related to the merchant prince, take the call instead. Why pick up dice if you don’t have to?

But some sort of guideline for whether or not an influential person will take the PCs request seemed wise.

Plus: if you’re wondering, this is basically an equivalent of “you get XP for gold.” The wealthier and more successful you are, the more ships, fortresses, and troops you commend, the nicer your armor, weapons, and clothing, the more you look the part of the mighty hero. It’s also a good way to look at how a sheltered offspring of a powerful noble might be a 1st-level or lower character, but still be worthy of dealing with seriously: good Persuasion due to charisma and practice, plus tremendous status and resources. Suddenly not all lords have to be 15th level fighters or mages (though many will be)!

The rules here aren’t final. I may flip it around a bit and instead make the Social Standing a passive check, and recast this as a 2d10 or 3d6 roll for a “reaction” with relative standing as a modifier (so it’s a single, player-facing roll instead of a contest). A passive score will also allow a quick comparison: “no, you’re more than 20 lower than Lord Robert; the best way to get the hajarl’s ear is to approach Lady Alina, the newly-appointed jarl of one of his vassal towns; she’s a jarl, but of lower standing and might treat more equally with you, and SHE can bring your petition before Robert.”

None of the concepts below should replace good roleplay, but they will help guide things. I may yet flatten things out a bit; pretty much anyone could step in front of the Thing/Althing to speak, and the kind of disparity in social standing was a continental thing more than a viking thing. But the core is there, and this basic concept is easily portable into other games: apparently this works out fairly well using ACKS’ native level tables as well.

So there we go. Here’s the Dragon Heresy version of “XP for gold.”

As the Kickstarter winds down, today I’m going to write rules for “flyting,” a ritual poetic contest of insults. That will complete the “alternate rules work” that I want to do to provide options for conflict and conflict resolution that don’t involve pointed sticks. Between flyting and grappling and access restrictions found below, there are plenty of ways to challenge the party without relying n always breaking out weapons.

From here, I will get busy with writing “Identify Fiend or Foe” advice for my monsters, and ensuring that some of the “I’ll do this later” parts of the ms are finally complete.  Continue reading “Dragon Heresy Rules Excerpt: Social Standing”

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!

Sean Punch, also known as Dr. Kromm, works for Steve Jackson Games. He joins Geek Gab’s Game Night (during the day!) along with me (Douglas Cole) to talk about Dungeon Fantasy RPG and Cole’s new adventure for the setting, Hall of Judgment!

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

Derek Knutsen-Frey and I chatted a lot about Dragon Heresy in a prior interview. It was a great chat. We also spent another hour (ish) talking about the business of game design. Even if I do say so myself, it’s a very good discussion.

EPISODE 171 – DOUGLAS COLE DRAGON HERESY PART 2

Other links:

RPG Development Costs

Economizing on RPG Development Costs

. . . it’s real.Hall of Judgment, an adventure conversion for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG by Steve Jackson Games.

I asked for permission to convert Lost Hall of Tyr to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. As Andrew Hackard indicated, the negotiations were painless. For now, though, plans only include the single item.

More details and cool stuff will be discussed as things develop, but I can confirm:

  • The adventure will be mildly de-Norse’d, in keeping with the generic nature of the DFRPG
  • There will be 8 pre-gen characters
  • The wilderness travel rules I wrote will be converted to DFRPG
  • The short section on grappling will also be converted to DFRPG, and will reap the benefit of years of play and learning
  • The bestiary will be converted to DFRPG; I’m already working on some thoughts and layout options
  • The map will be modified to give an actual location and travel direction to the Lost Hall

The original Lost Hall adventure was designed as a demonstration of the Dungeon Grappling rules for 5E. It was also designed to be jammed into a single, one-shot, two-to-three hour game at GenCon 50. Certain liberties can be taken with a design like that that are not appropriate for a modular adventure to plunk into an existing campaign.

So it’s going to get better.

That’s all I have to say about it for now . . . but I’ve got the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter to launch at 10am Central today. That’s an entire game in the same world as Hall of Judgment, and you can also imagine that I will be needing to focus and write more support material for that.

 

Gaming Ballistic is pleased to announce that the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set will be coming to Kickstarter in April 2018.

Dragon Heresy is a Norse-inspired setting and supporting roleplaying game. It is built around a fantasy representation of the Nine Realms, where the Aesir, fae, dragons, and fiends all vie for control of Etera in the mortal realm of Midgard. The PCs are looking to become mighty heroes, and venture north into the ancient lands of the former demense of the Elder Dragons to find fame, fortune, glory, and magic.

It builds off of the excellent SRD5.1 game engine, but with adjustments and additions made to match the feel of the setting and provide more nuance to combat and struggle

  • Division of HP into wounds and vigor for a more coherent treatment of rest and injury
  • Shields are way, way cooler
  • Enhanced use of existing mechanics to add nuance and risk to combat
  • Grappling rules that don’t suck

The Dragon Heresy Introductory Set is a fully playable game, covering character creation, adventuring from Level 1-5, combat, gear, and challenges. In the book you will find:

  • Choose from Fighter, Berserker, Cleric, and Wizard classes
  • Humans, Dwarves, Half-elf, and Dragonborn available as races
  • Norse-inspired culture, cosmology, and mythology
  • Deadly and tactically interesting combat Rules refined from the 5th edition of the world’s most popular fantasty RPG

The book will be approximately 256 pages, with major sections for

  • Character creation – including races, classes, backgrounds, equipment, and spells from Level 1-5
  • Core Mechanics – what’s the same, and what’s different, from SRD5.1
  • Running the Game – example rules for survival and overland travel in a hostile wilderness, risks and rewards, a random treasure generation table suitable for the levels in the book
  • Combat – all you need to live and die by violence, including melee weapons, new rules for shield use, grappling rules that don’t suck, and more. Fights are not driven by attrition, integrating morale and the potential for sudden incapacitation
  • Injury, Rest, and Healing – Dragon Heresy differentiates strongly between wounds, vigor, and exhaustion to make resting vs. healing a meaningful distinction.
  • Spellcasting and Spell Lists from spell level 1-3
  • A brief introduction to the Norse-inspired world of Etera
  • Over 100 monsters custom-modified and rewritten to suit the mythology and cosmology of the Nine Realms

Read on for more details!

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Introductory Set coming to Kickstarter in April”

Another quick use of GREP

Find: (.*)\r

Find Style: Topic (my header style)

Change to: $0================>

The key thing here is the $0, which is InDesign for “grab whatever you just found.” The equals signs and greater-than sign are actually what I get when I paste the graphic that Michael built in to my template.

What that does is find every instance of my Topic Paragraph Style and selects the entire line. It rewrites the line exactly, and then adds the graphic afterwards:

Since once one determines this works, it takes seconds to make the switch, being able to do things like this is a big deal.

There’s still occasionally some formatting I have to do. But by and large, this sort of thing is a ridiculous time-saver for things.

Working with Tables

No way ’round it. They’re annoying.

But . . . one thing I found out the hard way is that working with a table there are several different ways you can do it, and they’re all different, and all needed.

  • You can use the select tool, which picks out the frame.
  • You can use the Text tool and click inside the text, which works with the cells
  • You can also use the text tool to highlight entire lines of cells, which is slightly different

This next one was the big reveal for me

  • If you right-cursor or manage to click so that the cursor position becomes the ENTIRE left side of your table, that allows you to use centering and other things to keep the table within your frame, or indent it, or whatever.

This was a huge deal for me, because for whatever reason, I kept having my tables offset from my frame, which meant that lining up the frame with the columns did me no good.

In Closing

Working with InDesign is subtle. It’s like a Wizard that way, and the program is quick to anger, and publishers apparently taste good with ketchup.

But I was able, with a bit of consultation from Michael and a lot of “Oh. Oh! OH!!!” moments over the weekend, lay out in good form the entire non-monster portion of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set. 150 laid-out pages for about 94,000 words.

This is a huge deal for me. It probably means that at worst, the intro set will be 272 pages, which is more than I’d like but not crazed. If the new monster format I worked out with Michael comes in at 550 words per page it means the thing will nicely fit into my original 256-page “shoot for this” scheme.

If I can hit the same word density as the first bits I’ve laid out already, we’re on target for 240 pages, which is in my mind the ideal target. But really, anywhere between 240 and 256 works for me.

Next up is collecting all of my existing art assets in one place and seeing what art holes naturally exist in the document. I didn’t purposefully add any, and removed quite a few. I’m violating some layout rules in the Intro Set to keep page count down. But overall, I should be able to use and re-use most of what I have (and some is original to Dragon Heresy in general) and keep things restrained.

That means I can probably Kickstart the thing in April. Watch for it!

Last few days or a week or so I’ve been laying out the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set. The manuscript is done, cut down from 410,000 words to about 149,500, and 55,000 of those are completely awesome monsters.

But InDesign, basically the industry standard layout package, is a CAD program for words. It is ridiculously functional, but what it is not is a word processor. Certain things, like “line spacing,” are not really things in layout. Oh, they exist, but line spacing is all sorts of things, mostly “leading,” (named for the strips of lead placed between lines of text), but there’s space before, after, during, around the side . . .

Anyway, two minor victories last night.

First, columns and frames. I didn’t like the way my spell lists were coming out. I wanted it to be more clear what spells were what level. It took a lot of manipulation, but I finally got it.

Hint 1: Turn Text Threading On

To solve the presentation issue, I wound up having to create at least three to five different frames. It took a bit to get the size right. The only way I could rationalize it all is to keep the text thread viewer turned on. That’s the blue lines that connect how the text flows from frame to frame. Out from one arrow, into the other. Whenever something wasn’t behaving right, keeping this on solved the issue two times in three for me.

(Note: whenever it doesn’t work, it’s my fault. InDesign doth not guess what to do. It does what you tell it, even if you tell it wrong.)

So turn on Text threads from the View–>Extras–>Show Text Threads menu stack, and you’ll see blue lines (mine are blue, anyway). They help.

Hint 2: GREP, GREP, Baby

My second issue was poor spacing for spell descriptions. Words are pages, and pages are money.

I started with a poor spacing issue, probably because my No Spaces style in Word did not import properly into the RTF when I round-tripped the file to InDesign for style cleanup.

So I had too much space in the spells.

It was a slog, but eventually I figured out how to fix it. I made a Character Style called Spell Statistics with the leading set to 50% instead of 120% of the character font size. I then used Find/Change (CTRL-F) and the GREP function in the menu with this command

Range:(.*)\r

That selects everything between the lead-in word Range: (with the colon) to the forced line break/paragraph mark (\r). For the replace, I replaced the existing character style with Spell Statistics. Click Change All, and boom – 104 replacements in a matter of seconds.

Repeat for Components: and Duration: and it was all done.

Hint 3: Round Trippin’ Across the Universe

The final bit is a commonly-used tactic to clear out the copious amounts of crap from the Word styles menu. Short version, Place the doc file in its own new text frame in a brand new document, with all other documents closed, just to be sure. Ignore that it will overflow the frame. Click in the text somewhere (this is important) with the Text tool, then Export. It will come up as RTF, and you re-save your file this way.

Now, close everything. When you Place into whatever your working document template is in InDesign, and you do Style Mapping, ONLY the styles you use in your document are going to come in. In fact, I might have even lost a few (see above). But I once had 83 ToC entry styles and if you don’t exclude them, you have to map them to something (or nothing) one by one, which is irksome.

Nothing New Under the Sun

These hints are not me being original or clever. I found tutorials on the web, or talked to experts, or (with the particular GREP thing) used a google search for regular expressions to find the right wildcards.

But they helped me, and so I record them for posterity’s sake.