I’m thrilled to be able to report that Lost Hall of Tyr physical copies have been mailed to the backers that ordered them, and I now have stock of the softcover on sale through my web store.

Lost Hall was a grand and fun experiment. It was a GenCon scenario designed to show off both Dungeon Grappling and peek into the Etera setting that will be more sharply featured in the upcoming Dragon Heresy RPG.

In both respects, the peek was successful. Reviewers commented that the inclusion of Norse and pseudo-Norse elements were well done, while both convention games went quite well, and of the fifteen people that played it, even the one I thought based on body language was going to have harsh negative feedback had nice things to say. Those that walked away with a comment all noted that the system made grappling fun, for the first time in many cases.

I still have a few things to do before I can post my final “tale of the tape” for financials. As noted, my splurging on a piece of art by a top-shelf artist was a risk I took gladly, and it’s a gorgeous image. Net/net on release, though, it probably cost me about $500-1000 more than I brought in from the Kickstarter to make the book. All things considered, that’s not bad, and once again I delivered PDF and physical rewards months ahead of time. PDFs were delivered two months early, and updated with tweaks and fixes since then, including a full bookmarking pass. The Physical copies were not promised until April, and so were a minimum of three months early.

So: Lost Hall of Tyr. Go get it. It’s available for 5e and Swords & Wizardry, and includes a Dungeon Grappling quick-start for those curious.

You have seen a slowdown in the blog recently. This has been related to game production activity for Gaming Ballistic, LLC as a company, rather than as a blog.

Dragon Heresy

I’ve been furiously editing Dragon Heresy. I am determined to get this into shape this year, and by “in shape” I mean “into gamer’s hands.”

This will take two forms. The first is a product that will cover level 1-5, with limited selection of race (humans, dwarves, dragonborn, half-elves), and class (the classic four, limited clerical domains). Basic monster selection, plus humanoid foes of various persuasions. No new art to speak of, though I do have two or three dozen images from Dungeon Grappling, Lost Hall of Tyr, and some pre-purchased art for Dragon Heresy itself. The editing will be done by me. The rules will be stripped to the minimum needed to play the game.

This “ashcan” or “Basic” project will use the layout that Michael Clarke has developed, which is freakin’ gorgeous. It will likely use one of the covers for the book – probably the Book of Heroes – though I might take a GURPSy approach to it and make a cover with excerpts from the covers I’ve already got.

This will get things in front of people, and finally put Dragon Heresy in the public square for consumption. I think it’s a great SRD5.1 modification and playtesting went very well. The “ashcan” will not be a small book, but I’ll be shooting for maybe 128-160 pages. I’ll hopefully use the funds from that product to offset and accelerate the Big Set, mostly things I like to have done in advance, like professional editing, layout, and indexing.

From there, I will look to Kickstart the full three-volume set for art, and stuff as much as possible into the book.

I have big plans for Dragon Heresy and the core engine for the game, but none of that can start until it’s out there.

The Hunted Lands

The hunted lands will be a starter adventure that will support the Dragon Heresy game, and especially the Basic rules. I’ve got some great ideas in mind here, and the adventure will be geared towards starting adventurers.

I’ve got something like six to eight major concept axes that I’m working with, involving challenges from various factions within the game. Some involve internal politics in Torengar, most are external threats. The adventure is more a mini-setting or setting slice than anything else. Adventure seeds in a mapped-out locale, in the manner of the Midderlands or other books like it. Based on what I have in mind, this volume could easily be as large as the Basic rules themselves.

Lost Hall of Tyr

As of this writing, the last I heard from Publisher’s Graphics, the remaining physical books were at the bindery. This means both the covers and the interior have been successfully printed, and so “any day now” I expect to get notice that the books are shipping to me. I have already prepped the mailing boxes, and will print out the shipping content pages. I expect to have a fairly short “packing party” and then get the books to the backers. The European backers’ copies are already starting to arrive. The book is on sale on DriveThruRPG and has even made a few sales (I’ve not promoted it heavily yet; I want my print inventory in hand before I do that).

The only unfulfilled promises in the Kickstarter have to do with my two high-level backers that are getting character portraits done. Those are “due” by April, so there’s still plenty of time, and I’ll be getting that started quickly as we run into January.

Other Games, Other Authors, Other Products

I’ve mentioned David Pulver’s Venture Beyond before in these updates, and that is still being worked. I’ve also been in contact with two other game designers who have shown an interest in publishing through me, though it’s at the “hey, that’s interesting!” rather than “here’s a contract stage.”

I’m also going to be selling shields – hand-crafted by me – through my website to domestic customers. I’ve been pretty happy with the ones I’ve made recently, and they’re better than most of the others out there. Not all of them, but most of them.

Finally, you might start seeing some non-game reference works on the site, though I’m not sure if that’ll happen this year or not.


There are only so many hours in the day, and editing a 400,000 word manuscript takes up most of them. I do have a few things in my noggin on GURPS that I want to write down, and it’s always fun to do reviews and whatnot. But right now, the push to get my own work out there really eats up “let’s write for fun” time.

Even so, GURPSDay needs a shot in the arm. We’ve got nearly 100 bloggers, but most of them don’t write each week, or even at all. I’m hoping to work with Christopher Rice to throw down some challenges and topics to encourage the group to get more out there. Some of that will be regular GURPS, some will be the various sub-lines of GURPS, and some will support the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Some of the more-regular features I used to do, though, will probably return. Monster Monday and GunDay are both things I can spend focused time on, and were quite popular.

Playing Games

I want to try and get into a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game – and right now there’s one brewing under Christopher’s helm. I’m slated to play in it, and we’ll see how that goes. With my schedule, I need something with a low out-of-game burden, and the last two games were not that.

I also would really like to get into a DnD5e or Swords and Wizardry game that plays regularly.

Ahead to 2018

My year-in-review for 2017 showed me that I did more last year than, by the end of the year, it felt like. My goals for this year are to increase the number of products I put out under my publishing imprint. In 2016 and 2017, I put out one each. This year, I wish to do at least two, and “one per quarter” would be a good goal. Eventually, I really need some sort of new release each month, but I don’t think that’s a 2018 goal. One thing that I have in mind is a gear catalog with an Etera flavor to it. Loadouts and equipment that make sense for the game, with the right theme and inspiration.

The blog needs a shot in the arm, and a regular “every other day or so” schedule is the best way to do that. So I’ll work there.

The “alternate projects” like creating shields will be interesting, and if I can move some of those, will be a huge boost to my ability to create games due to the revenue influx, which for hand-crafted physical items like this can be non-trivial. I also love making them, so that’s good stuff for me.

I really need to consider a Patreon or other method to let folks help me move projects forward other than Kickstarter, and if the Big Dragon Heresy Book is to be as successful as I’d like, I need to grow my mailing list by roughly 10x. That is quite a bit. That’s a bit of Catch-22, also. I have a few ideas on how that might work, and one or two low-probability irons in the fire that would help.

Time to get to it.

James Introcaso asked a simple question.

What is the kindest thing a player can do for a GM? #DnD #RPG

The answers are well worth reading.

A few things spring to mind here, many of which are doubtless repeated in the thread.

Show up on time

If you’re not going to show or are going to be late, let folks know ahead of time. As far ahead of time as possible. A decent GM can plan for almost anything. “The Key Guy” didn’t show up? Not so much.

Play the game, not the rules

Metagame rules discussions are a hoot, and I enjoy talking game mechanics. Everyone that has ever heard me on a podcast or been part of a discussion with me on a forum like Tenkar’s Wedneday night Tavern Chats knows I loves me some game mechanics.

But the rules aren’t the game, any more than a skeleton is the person, or the riverbed the totality of the river. They support the game, give structure and guidance to it. Provide the framework in which amazing journeys can be taken. All that stuff. But the game’s the thing.

The rules set expectations and give the players and the GM guidance to what the result might be when “anything can be attempted.” Depending on genre, some things are sensible (“Wonder Woman lifts the tank over her head!”) where in other genres, that same thing is not just implausible, but stupid (“You give yourself a hernia trying to lift the tank over your head. Seriously, what are you thinking?”).

This can get dicey when you’re playing games with a strong tactical or wargamey feel, such as DnD, GURPS, and many others. Still, by and large, save or table detailed discussion for after the moment. Continue reading “Nice things to do for your TTRPG Group”

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”

I hope y’all have been waiting for this day as I have. But I have locked down those who responded to the survey (all but 17 of y’all) and distributed files to those folks. I will next examine those that have not filled out their survey . . . and if it looks like things are in order for the transfer from Kickstarter and that each of these folks will get what they asked for during the campaign proper, I will release those as well.

As such, 225 people should have received their digital files, or at least an email saying that they’re ready for download. Some of the files are very large, as one would expect from such graphically intensive work.

So, the countdown begins. Please read, inspect, and ask questions, and post your comments in this blog post.

Yes, this one, please!

In any case, read it, play it, let me know what you find. If there are errata (and there always are), please post them to the blog thread, and Todd and I will see what we can do.

Note that an erratum is something like a typo or grammar error. Things that are preferences or suggestions can only be entertained if they don’t break layout, and will be given a somewhat gimlet eye even then: the purpose is to finish the work, after all!

Thank you so much for coming along with me on this journey. I appreciate your faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Douglas Cole

Gaming Ballistic, LLC

Just a very quick update.

Todd rocks. He’s done everything that needs doing for the prelim release. This means three things.

  1. I will be locking down everyone that’s submitted their survey between 3pm and 5pm on November 24th.
  2. Everyone that has ordered digital files – Lost Hall, Dungeon Grappling, The Manor Collection, and Bogie’s Map Pack should be able to download it that day. All files that will be distributed have already been uploaded to Backerkit’s digital distribution hub.
  3. I submitted Lost Hall for a preliminary proof hard copy a few days ago. The files are in prep; hopefully I’ll be able to order the hardcopy Real Soon Now, or receive word of changes.

What might those changes be? Usually something with bleed (stuff that runs over the place where the pages are trimmed) or Total Ink Coverage. If the colors in an image are too dark, they can flake or not stick. That happened to me before with CreateSpace (which is why I’m not going with them at all this time around).

But if the files are approved and the proof looks good, I’ll let y’all know and then start a 10-day countdown clock. That’s when you guys can read your digital files and let me know if I missed anything.

Then Todd and I will make final changes, submit those files to the two printers, and start the clock ticking on orders. I find it likely – but not certain – that folks will start to get physical copies of Lost Hall and Dungeon Grappling in January. February at the latest.

Ironically, because printing through DriveThru/Lightning Source through the UK has a lot of print volume behind it, my international backers are very likely to get their product before my domestic backers. I will keep everyone informed of exactly where we are in the process though.

Again: mad props to Todd, John, Juan, Gerasimos, Michael, Rick, and Cornelia for meeting or beating all deadlines laid before them, which allowed production to go as smoothly as it has (to date, anyway). We’ve done very well, schedule-wise, and that kind of performance requires a great team.

The Lost Hall post-campaign goings-on still go on, and they are going strong.

Backerkit, Huzzah!

This one’s all on y’all. So far, in one day, about 60% of backers have filled out the surveys. This is good. I’d like everyone to do it, of course, but if you are one of the 115 backers that expects to receive Lost Hall of Tyr or Dungeon Grappling as a physical product, I must have your shipping address, and I’d very much like it through Backerkit.

I’m also quite gratified at the number of you guys that are electing to procure some of the cool Add-Ons that are available. I’ll note that the Manor Collection is a great deal, and if you’re an OSR fan, you’ll dig it completely. Dan’s map collection is very cool, and if you play via VTTs you’ll appreciate being able to drop in a new encounter at short notice.

Stythja Still Available

Just a shout-out for this one. The top-tier pledge was the styðja, or patron level. It features the following three things:

  • The opportunity to generate a character that will effectively be a “pre-gen” for Lost Hall
  • The character will be visualized as an epic figure by one of the artists who worked on the project.
  • Finally, part of this process is a preview of the Character Generation, Races, and Classes chapters of Dragon Heresy, my forthcoming SRD5.1 full RPG.

Here’s a peek inside:

I can tell you I had a lot of fun with these, and there’s a lot more in there than just what appears in the SRD. History, different takes on the races and classes, entirely new clerical domains based on Norse mythology, new abilities and fighting styles, and more. I can tell you this: shields are going to get way cooler.

It’s still a work in progress . . . but there’s been a lot of progress and playtesting, so while it’s not perfect, it will give a feel that captures the kinds of characters that will fit easily into the world of Etera, and provide what I hope is an exciting glimpse of what’s to come.

I will be contacting those that have elected the Styðja character levels shortly after the Backerkit phase ends and distributing the required digital files at that time. The PDF collection of characters thus created will be available prior to April 2018, as promised in the Kickstarter rewards section.

Production Progress

Todd emailed me what looks to be the final file (maybe one change pending), and I’ve approved it. This means that he can start building the Table of Contents as well as hyperlinking the document.

The result of his hard work, and the excellent responsiveness of the editing and art teams, is that unless something drastically horrendous happens, the penultimate version of the digital product will be in your hands within the week after the Backerkit phase closes.

As noted in the prior update, two things happen during this phase. Firstly, I send the files to my two print vendors for proofs (actually, this is likely to start happening this week or next). Just as importantly, you guys review the heck out of your document and find what we missed. There’s always something. Check spelling, clarity, and layout issues. Test all the hyperlinks. Head to the blog post on Gaming Ballistic’s website and leave a comment in the thread that will be started for the purpose and I’ll update the “Errata” list with notes on whether we can accommodate the request. Feel free to suggest other hyperlinks that you feel will be useful.

Map Pack

The maps for the adventure are provided as 8.5×11 full pages in the back of the adventure. They are also provided at a lower (more screen compatible) resolution of about 200dpi, and are 32″ x 40″ in size at that scale. They will come as a compressed file of JPEGs so they can be pulled into your Virtual Table Top program of choice, or you can have them printed as posters or anything else.

They are full color, and have no grids or scales on them, so that for those that do use the VTT’s native grid functions, you don’t get the case where either you can’t quite match up the map grid with the program grid, or for folks like me that like hexes, have to deal with a hex overlay on a square grid.

I am working with Bogie maps on a few fun extras to make choosing between grid options easy, but no word on those yet.

Endgame and Next Projects

So that’s where we are. Thanks for coming with me so far, and please do take advantage of the “share” functions of the various forums. Give the project a re-share from Kickstarter or Backerkit. Even better, throw down a nice comment or two on the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, or the various DnD-flavored groups or RPG forums.

This won’t be my last product. I expect that within the month I’ll take delivery of a 115,000-word manuscript for a completely original Sci-Fi game that I cannot wait to get started on, which includes core rules and three short scenarios. If that goes well, the author has 27 more adventures ready to go.

And of course there’s Dragon Heresy, and I hope that I’ve convinced you that I have the project management chops to deliver even a very large project on time. The only reason that one isn’t out already is that I want to do the same quality job with it that I have done (says me) on Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr. That means art . . . and lots of it. The Dragon Heresy draft that went to Ken Hite (yes, that Ken Hite) for editing was roughly 400,000 words, or approximately 800 pages in 3 volumes. I’ll need anywhere from 200 to 400 pieces of art to do it how I want . . . and that requires a very successful campaign.

When it comes time, I hope you’ll help me with that.

Until then, back to the wilds of production for me!

Last night Kickstarter processed the funds for the campaign – everyone’s payments cleared but one, which is a darn good percentage.

This morning, I sent out the Backerkit surveys. Each of you should have received an email as follows:

“Thank you for supporting the Lost Hall of Tyr Kickstarter!

The primary goal of the survey is to collect shipping and email information so that we can get you your physical and digital rewards. There are also a few “marketing and interest” related questions that I would love to get feedback on so that I can better tailor products to suit, and improve Gaming Ballistic’s customer experience as the company grows.

Thanks for your pledge, and for your time!”

I actually wound up dispensing with the marketing survey part, because you were forced to answer the questions, and I wanted minimum fuss.

In any case, you’ll be asked if you want your physical copies, if any, signed. You’ll go to a page that has pre-added your rewards, and you’ll either show a shipping fee, or possibly a credit if you pledged more than your reward.

You can add stuff if you like, and allocate your money or even buy more if you decide (for example) that you want several physical copies or that you want one or more of the custom characters. In that case you’ll be asked to pay the balance.

The Backerkit phase will run until November 24th. Then it’ll close down and that’s it.

Pre-orders are also open! This means that folks can order Lost Hall, and just for simplicity, they can do so at the Kickstarter discount. Retail price of the PDF will be $10; Print will be $20, and the bundle of both will be $25 . . . so if you have friends that want in, send them to the Pre-Orders Page!

Progress Update

So . . . I don’t want to jinx things. But Todd and I expect to finish the final PDF within a couple of days. That means in all probability, the PDF will be ready to distribute the day the Backerkit phase closes.

So digital distribution of Dungeon Grappling (if you ordered it) and Lost Hall (why you’re here) will occur on Nov 25 or so.

However! That won’t be the final file. I’ll be ordering proofs for print copies, and you guys will have a week or two to read the digital file, ask questions, and point out errors. If you find any, we’ll note them in a spreadsheet that I’ll maintain on my blog, Gaming Ballistic.

Once that’s done and I like the print file look, I will incorporate any clarifications or fixes that don’t break the layout that the backers notice, submit and order final files, and order print copies. Then I’ll order International copies from DriveThru, and take delivery at my home of the US orders, pack ’em up, and ship ’em out.

So . . . things are looking good in terms of schedule.


This is just a reminder of some administrative dates and estimates for the Lost Hall campaign.

The Kickstarter funds usually take “about two weeks” to settle, which means some time between today and something like Monday or Tuesday (Nov 13-14), everyone’s cards or other payment options will be charged.

As soon as that happens, I will make the Backerkit process live. A link will go out and your balance from your pledge will transfer over. Your reward amount is usually automatically added, and you might have a balance if you upped your pledge for add-ons.

Regardless of that balance, you will then pick the add-ons you want, and the shipping charges for your reward level will also be added. That final total will be charged at the end of the Backerkit portion – which is also where I’ll get the address information and a few other things.

The Backerkit portion will go until November 24.

Once that closes, I will start the process of assembling “lists” or “segments” for digital and physical distribution. If you bought a PDF copy of Dungeon Grappling, you’ll get that immediately.

Lost Hall Final Layout and Proofing

I’m pleased to say all the final art assets are in my hands, and Todd showed me a preliminary final layout yesterday. We’re not done by any stretch, but things are strong.

The way I did Dungeon Grappling, and the way I’ll do this campaign, is that when we have a final PDF, we’ll distribute it to backers, and then order proof copies of the product from the two printers we’ll be using. Getting proofs (physical ones) can take several weeks.

During that period, I’d ask for your feedback. It’ll be entered into a spreadsheet like this one, and I will discuss with Todd which if any changes can be accommodated. The only ones that can go in at that point are things that don’t break the layout. Reasonable requests will be accommodated, but at that point we’re mostly checking clarity, typography, and grammar.

Add-On Highlights

I’m pleased to report that Bogie Maps (Dan Roy) has completed all the maps for the add-on map pack. Some samples below:



There are three more as well, and you’ll be able to see them when the Backerkit goes live.

The other two add-ons are a excellent collection of OSR zines by my friend Tim Shorts, and of course Dungeon Grappling, which is available in both PDF and Print+PDF.

We’re coming down to the end, and things are going very well at this point. I’m much farther along than even for the Dungeon Grappling project, and that one delivered substantially ahead of schedule.

We had a fantastic day yesterday, and the weekend in general was wonderful. We pushed well past the original $3,500 stretch goal (though that’s now irrelevant because we’re getting that anyway) and there’s still 15 hours to go – the campaign closes at 10pm CST.

As we head into the final hours, a reminder:

  • Gaming Ballistic will handle PoD printing through PubGraphics. I’ve raved about their qualitybefore.
  • It will of course be made available on DriveThruRPG
  • It will have Swords and Wizardry support baked in, with conversion notes either in boxes or sprinkled through the rules as appropriate
  • It will probably still feature maps as art in a few places, but I’ll have to look at the final economics of the entire thing and see.

So that’s it – spread the word and let’s see if we can have a great last day!

If you haven’t pledged: the Lost Hall of Tyr is waiting to be found!