Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn: Kickstarter is now LIVE

Lost Hall started as a GenCon game called “The Grappling Smackdown.” It was my first GMing experience at a convention, and it was also a scenario designed to showcase monsters that grapple using the rules from my book Dungeon Grappling.

I ran it twice, and it was very successful. It also clearly had enough hooks in it to expand into a full adventure. So I did.

I talk about Dungeon Grappling, doing Kickstarters, and Lost Hall of Tyr on James Introcaso’s Table Top Babble 040 – SciFi and Kickstarter Advice.

The module is set in a culture and realm that uses the mythology and legends of the Asgardians, and the Nordic/viking culture, as a basis. It include, of course, advice on how to drop it into any campaign and setting, so long as the journey and quest takes the party into the mountains and wilderness, in search of an object or goal that is valuable because of its history and contents, but not powerful by itself.

The book contains:

Preface. The preface introduces the adventure as having started life as a 2-hr demonstration scenario run at GenCon that introduced two groups to the alternate grappling rules in Dungeon Grappling. Fifteen players, two sessions, great fun. It was then expanded into the volume being kickstarted.

Introduction. The local geography and the events leading to the quest to rediscover the Dómstóllinn, the Hall of Judgment, are laid out with enough background to drive the adventure if running Lost Hall of Tyr as a stand-alone demonstration. The introduction also provides some inspiration to use the adventure in other campaigns, settings, locations, or even as part of a mega-dungeon!

Lost Hall of Tyr. The core scenario. It includes a flowchart so that the GM can see how the different encounter areas connect, and then 20 adventure segments – a journey, a riddle, a combat encounter, or a physical feat. Each encounter will include Challenges, telling the GM what must be overcome, Concealed information that the players don’t know initially, Alternatives that talk about ways to short-circuit, bypass, or otherwise not just Leroy Jenkins one’s way through a challenge, and Rewards, where appropriate. Ransom encounter tables, encounter map images, and evocative artwork paint the story of the challenges faced.

Wilderness Travel. Travelling overland, especially carrying an adventurer’s usual load of gear, is hard work. This short chapter discusses ways to make that work dramatic and fun, including guidance for food, water, hunting, preserving meat, and rules for cold weather and climate. Not all challenges have talons and teeth.

Bestiary. Each monster that is listed in the scenario is given statistics, including a quick-reference chart for grappling, as well as statistics compatible with the Dungeon Grappling rules.

Dungeon Grappling Quick-Start. Even if you don’t have the book, you can still use the rules. Two pages of grappling the way it should be: fast, fun, and well-integrated with the Fifth Edition basic rules mechanics.

All together, this is a complete adventure that can be run on its own or dropped into an existing campaign.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: You do not need to have, use, or even like Dungeon Grappling to use this adventure.

You need not entirely buy in to the Viking-ish, pseudo-Norse setting material that serves as background.

I mean, you should love Dungeon Grappling, as a great set of grappling rules that don’t suck. And Woden will cast his unflinching eye on you with displeasure if you dis the setting. But, sigh . . . such things are not required.

I did, however, condense the Dungeon Grappling mechanics into a two-page quick-start that accurately represents how I both taught and ran the game at GenCon. You can attack to grapple, defend from grapples, and even cause injury by grappling, at the very least. Just the basics. But in Indianapolis, that was enough.

Each encounter has monsters that might use grappling against you or be grappled more effectively than they are struck. Well, except for a few where that’s not true, because you have to keep everyone guessing.

It makes for a really different kind of game, in a good way.

This is my second kickstarter. It’s probably a bit better organized than before, and definitely it’s farther along in terms of investment: I have more faith in myself and my ability to deliver a product.

  • Print will be an option right out of the gate, and the better the Kickstarter does, the better the printed book will be
  • The “cool cover” is not an option that comes around last; I commissioned it already, and Juan Ochoa is busy at work on it
  • I’ve already got encounter maps, by Dan Roy of Bogie Maps, being created. These will also come as separate files for dragging into a VTT
  • Oh, of course the entire thing is written, edited by renowned industry pro and multiple ENnie Winner John Adamus (Thanks to Ken Hite for steering me his way!), and Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games is completely owning the layout and graphic design, telling me when things are good, and when I just need to shut up and let him work.

So, is there anything not done? Well, sure. I’ve commissioned some preliminary art, and you’ll see that in the first two weeks of updates. And if it just passes the first goal, I’ll be able to populate the existing art spaces.

But there’s a bunch more art that could be there, and with a moderate achievement in stretch goals (roughly what Dungeon Grappling raised, actually), more art will be added.

Also: I’ve got a special guest star, so to speak. Roland Warzecha, of Dimicator, is perhaps one of the finest Sword-and-Buckler Western Martial Arts instructors and fighters in the world. He’s also an amazing illustrator. We got to know each other through Asfolk, the Viking Martial Arts studio I joined (and where I’m now an assistant instructor) researching Dragon Heresy. He’s agreed to a commission for at least one piece for the project, and I sincerely hope it does well enough to add a few more.

But really, that’s it. I could ship the thing on Monday and the adventure would be playable, while the book would be very attractive (if somewhat incomplete) . . . but that’s not how we do things around here.

So, I hope you help me bring Lost Hall of Tyr to life, as you helped me bring Dungeon Grappling to life.

I’ve got what I need, I think.

The video is complete. The pitch looks OK to me and some of my eyes-on folks.

But don’t take my word for it. Check it out in preview mode.

Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn by Gaming Ballistic, LLC

(The title link is to the preview; the image is just the video)

A 52 to 64 page adventure for 5e (and S&W at least, if it does well) with support for Dungeon Grappling.

Look for it Real Soon Now on Kickstarter.

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

A mailing list is a key part of any company’s outreach strategy. In short, it’s the first line of defense against stagnation and starvation. It’s the folks that have come to you, and either expressed interest in, or outright purchased your stuff.

It’s probably criminal that I haven’t set one up by now . . . a crime against good business.

But I’m rectifying that.

  • There’s now a sign-up bar at the top of the page. If you’re interested in getting emails on current and future products, progress on projects, or generally wanting to be informed as to (say) when a Kickstarter of mine will launch, please sign up.
  • If you’ve purchased something from me before, I’m going to proactively add you to the list . . . and then immediately remove you upon request, of course.

You can probably look for an email from me maybe every two to four weeks, and no more. I don’t want to spam you, and it’ll be a bit before enough happens in every given week to merit such a thing.

But please: if you’re interested in Gaming Ballistic as a company that sells products, rather than just a nifty blog, sign up!

I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Paladin (6th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Paladins take their adventures seriously, and even a mundane mission is, in the heart of the paladin, a personal test an opportunity to demonstrate bravery, to learn tactics, and to find ways to do good. Divine power protects these warriors of virtue, warding off harm, protecting from disease, healing, and guarding against fear. The paladin can also direct this power to help others, healing wounds or curing diseases, and also use it to destroy evil. Experienced paladins can smite evil foes and turn away undead. A paladin’s Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast. Many of the paladin’s special abilities also benefit from a high Charisma score.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Detailed Results

Detailed Results:

Lawful Neutral — XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (16)
Chaotic Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXXXXX (14)
Lawful Evil —– XXXXXX (6)
Neutral Evil —- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (15)
Chaotic Evil —- XXXX (4)

Law & Chaos:
Law —– XXXXX (5)
Chaos — XXX (3)

Good & Evil:
Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Evil —- X (1)

Dwarf —- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Gnome —- XXXXXXXX (8)
Halfling – XXXXXX (6)
Half-Elf – XXXXXXXX (8)
Half-Orc – XXXX (4)

Barbarian – XXXX (4)
Bard —— XXXXXXXX (8)
Cleric —- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Druid —– XXXXXX (6)
Monk —— XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Rogue —– XXXX (4)
Sorcerer — XXXXXXXXXX (10)

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.

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 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!