Dungeon Grappling Winds Down

I’ve received enough feedback from folks that I know that at least EU and USA hardcopies should have been more than trickling in. If you don’t have yours by the end of this week, please contact me at gamingballistic@gmail.com, and I’ll pester DriveThruRPG on your behalf.

Feedback for those that read, review, and use the book continues to be sparse but positive. I’m hoping as folks get their book, use it in games, and write about it online that word of mouth (word of electrons?) will spread and sales will pick up beyond the Kickstarter.

Speaking of sales: two dozen. That’s about how many non-Kickstarter books and PDFs have moved. It went on sale about two weeks ago, so the run rate is on the order of one per day.

Dragon Heresy Ramps Up

As one project ends, another . . . continues. I’d set down my Big Project in order to get Kickstarter experience with Dungeon Grappling. But that’s done now, and I’m digging in hard on Dragon Heresy.

  • I’ve got the manuscript done (425,000 words! Likely 750-800 pages)
  • I’ve send the manuscript to Ken Hite for editing
  • I’ve mostly decided to release it in three books (mostly characters, mostly action/setting, monsters)
  • I’m finishing up some preparatory art commissions to help sell the game. You’ll recognize the names (Juan, Gennifer).
  • I also have maps, procured a while ago.
  • I’ve brought on Michael Clarke for layout, cover design, and cover paintings, after he did a great job with that on Dungeon Grappling. It was a difficult decision, as I attracted some very talented folks for that job.
  • I am currently gathering artists . . . and since I’m anticipating 375-425 pieces of color art for the book, I need 20-30 of them if the time from “Kickstarter ends” to “PDF ships” is to be kept reasonable, and by “reasonable” I mean about 18-20 weeks to final delivery.

Continue reading “Dungeon Grappling winds down; Dragon Heresy spins up”

I am looking for artists. Probably two dozen or so of them. The Dragon Heresy RPG is going to be laid out in roughly the same style as Dungeon Grappling, and I wound up with about one piece of art, on the average, every two pages. That puts DH clocking in at 390 pieces of art. If I say “one piece of art per monster,” That’s 164 monsters and would push the art budget to 425 pieces.

So I’m recruiting.

I want images like these, in terms of style.

If this fits what you do, please email me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com

Here’s my pitch: Continue reading “Recruiting for Dragon Heresy art team”

The manuscript is done

Final tally is just shy of 425,000 words, which will wind up being about 780 pages laid out. Likely split into two or three books.

Now final ‘scripts are off to Ken Hite for editing, and I’ll be looking at my current and extended contacts for a layout pro to make this every bit as pretty a book as Dungeon Grappling is.

Now . . . sleep, perchance to get eaten by kittens.

It was December 26, 2012 when I first decided to start blogging. Four years later, I’d say that whatever 2016 held for me personally, and for the world at large, it’s certainly been the biggest year ever for Gaming Ballistic.

January

This was a big month. We started the Aeon campaign, I began the Reloading Press, and I did a few reviews. The Broken Blade appeared in Pyramid.

GURPSDay got recognized as a real thing by SJG, and started a strong, year-long tradition that hasn’t let up despite travel, injury, and toddlers.

Also, the very first posts in what would become Dragon Heresy appeared, with Hit, Miss, Armor, Shield showing up at the end of the month. This month sets my course for the rest of 2016.

February

More of the same. A few reviews, campaign logs, and more reloading press.

A bunch of alternate GURPS posts showed up too, from finding ways to give limited defenses despite using All-Out Attack, to some concepts for looking at Task Difficulty Modifiers and speeding up guns combat.

I also strongly intimated that I had started Dragon Heresy as a real product.

March

26 posts, a slight decrease from February’s 28, and Dragon Heresy saw its first playtest games to try out the rules. Kept on with my schedule of posts; I seem to recall my traffic increasing nicely about this time.

April

Finished up one of my better review series – the GURPS Action line. More reloading presses, including a fun one for April Fool’s Day on the M41 pulse rifle and its ammunition that was very well received.

The GURPSDay traffic on my blog started to increase wonderfully, at least in Blogger hits, though many of those were more than a bit bogus.

The Dragon Heresy manuscript hit 125,000 words, which is about 30% of where it is today. I also did a playtest with 6th level characters. I had a long list of “learned items” that I took away, which informed better writing. You can still see the results of this test in the current draft.

May

I was still keeping up with my blogging schedule at this point. I had delusions of polishing this into a real form by August 2016. I went looking for artists and cartographers – and did wind up spending a bunch of cash on maps.

A lot of good writeups and a lot of chaos in the Aeon campaign, as we worked out our characters and how to play them. As I was GMing a game and playing in at least one more, I started to fall off the pace of posting, with only 70% of days having a fresh post, down from closer to 100% in Jan-April.

June

It feels like June is the month my GURPS output really started to drop as I headed towards what would become a pretty major milestone in September. The writing stacks up some major to-dos, and at this point I’m still talking about “only one book.” It must be in July and August that it changed. I’m starting to make more noises about the project management side of things, talking about editing, art, cartography, and Kickstarter. I only got 2 Reloading Presses in, out of four that would usually happen in a month.

July

Ah, hah. I notice that my non-Dragon Heresy writing has tapered off, and apologize for it. I’m still in the “finish a complete publishable draft” realm of thought, even though the manuscript is now pushing 300,000 words. I’m aiming at September for a Kickstarter, even. I can see I’m very much lowballing the art, but that’s deliberate, and I haven’t seen how text flows yet, and how art holes show up naturally, and more of them than you’d think.

I’m really starting to think hard about crowdfunding here. I’m also thinking hard about self-publishing, and what that means.

August

Heh. On the first day of August I realized that the book had grown to the point where two 250-275 page volumes were likely . . . and that was likely because my “how many words per page” estimates were still using SJG estimates, which run from 700-800 words per page, which is roughly twice the wordcount I have on, for example, Dungeon Grappling. I was being deliberately art-heavy for DG, but still – the final project of 200,000 words per book, two books, each of something closer to 370 pages (550 words per page) hasn’t poked at me yet. I’m hoping for a Q117 release at this point.

GURPS hardbacks – Mars Attacks! and Discworld – are sent to the printers. This is a welcome change for those that love them some print-copy GURPS.

I start to flirt with how to do art direction. I can see, in hindsight, that my efforts are really underscoped in terms of what I’m providing potential artists.

I do some market research via polling, and learn that in the “one big book” vs “two smaller books” question, it comes down into two smaller books by about a 3-2 margin. Not huge, but reasonably decisive. There’s always the opinion that if your book(s) are that long, they must be poorly written.

I start to really go to down in worldbuilding, fleshing out each country on the map Cornelia Yoder built for me. Each realm has enough history and interest and differentiation to be able to site a campaign there, though I have no plans, as of yet, in doing so.

I do a post on printing costs for offset print runs that is one of my most popular posts ever.

The Dungeon Fantasy boxed set is announced for GURPS. It will Kickstart, and I host a Q&A with Phil Reed.

September

This is the month that things really changed on me.

I spent the first eight days and eight posts of September flogging and promoting the DF boxed set Kickstarter, including an interview with Sean Punch.

On Sept 9 I announced the formation of Gaming Ballistic, LLC to host my game, my sales, and keep liability for the thing away from my house. I take a look at The World of Aetaltis, a setting for 5e that had some pretty good fiction and biggish names in support. It seemed to have lush art, a whole lot of prework done, and a ton of stuff would come with it. Larry Correia and Ed Greenwood contributed fiction stories in the world.

It failed. Gulp. They asked for $70,000 (reasonable, if not low, given what they were offering), and got only 31% of the way there. It wound up with 189 backers, and Dungeon Grappling wound up with 294. While my book wound up with nicely high production values, World of Aetaltis had demonstrably high quality from the get-go.

Hrm. I start reconsidering the too-soon October Kickstarter. I also start the process to migrate from Blogger to WordPress.

I took a business trip to Thailand, jet-lagged the hell out of myself, and in the background Ken Hite agreed to edit Dragon Heresy. That necessitated pushing the Kickstarter to January. Even now, it’s likely to get pushed to February, and that’s feeling uncomfortably close to right the hell now.

I start quantifying just how nasty international shipping is.

I take delivery of the final copies of the Dragon Heresy maps. They’re very pretty.

I’m doing a lot of writing – bingeing on the monster fluff-text – and my blog output falls to 56% daily posting, which is pretty low. On the other hand, the monsters are getting loving attention. I finally arrive at two books, each of roughly 350-370 pages, as the most likely size of Dragon Heresy. I don’t think that’s changed.

October

I reached out in late September or early October to a fairly well-regarded launcher of Kickstarters. His advice to me about Dragon Heresy was basically “forget it.” Too big an ask, especially for a first timer. In order to get the backers I need, I’d basically have to get each of the folks that follows my roleplaying collection on Google+ (maybe 1,300 folks at the time) to give me $100.

That isn’t going to happen. So I decided in early October to do a small one first, and landed on grappling as the topic. I anticipated having a “pre-fund Dragon Heresy!” set of tiers, but I dropped that as I considered the Kickstarter, because “focus focus focus” was the right call.

I recognize the need for a boilerplate retail contract. I still don’t have one. This will be “yes, I will sell your stuff through Gaming Ballistic, and give you a large royalty on the sale.”

Near the end of October, I have a playtest in Pathfinder that confirms the “hit point problem,” and we fix it. The draft looks good for release, and I lay the foundation for the Kickstarter . . .

The website gets a major facelift, to the format and aesthetic you see today. I still love it.

By the end of the month, I’d seen a layout pass on the project, made suggestions to Nathan, and most of my time was spent in getting the Kickstarter ready.

November

I make my video, get some art from Emily Smirle to sell the book, and launch the Kickstarter. That basically consumes my blog and my life for the month of November.

On the other hand, it funds in four days, and passes the first stretch goal in a week. I go on Shane Plays radio as well as the Round Table. I get reviews of my project and post them, and they’re all positive. Eventually, I pre-commit to full-color artwork, since the trajectory looks good.

December

The Kickstarter closes on December 6, with me in Thailand again, having funded at $4,853, or 323% of my ask. My internals show I’m within a few dollars of hitting the full cost of a custom cover, and as I’ve shown, boy am I glad I did that. For what it’s worth, I have made a few hundred dollars more in Backerkit, and “officially” passed the $5,000 stretch goal anyway, so it was a good call for me to just place the order.

Blog took a bit of a snooze while I was in Thailand – I was sick and jet lagged and worn out. I did, however, keep up with my artists, and am on track to get most of my art in hand in the next week or two, which will allow me to assemble the final copy of the book. I also purchased Adobe Creative Cloud, which has allowed me to begin to do things like provide mockups of books, and play with images in a more sophisticated way. Also learning to make direct edits in InDesign, but I’m a few tutorials short on that one, and I don’t dare touch anything until I know enough to be slightly less dangerous.

The art I have and continue to get is gorgeous, and exceeds my expectations, even my wildest dreams. And I’m on schedule for delivery.

Dragon Heresy needs a renewed shot in the arm, though. I have to find time this week to seriously revisit the old manuscripts.

Parting Shot

It’s been a hell of a year, but a good one.

Dungeon Grappling probably won’t change my life by itself. It’s a small product, and while I suppose it could sell 50,000 copies or something crazy like that, that’s a nice shot in the arm, but it’s not a new career.

Dragon Heresy, though . . . if that goes well, it’s got legs. It’s the beginning of a solid game engine (one that Alex Macris has spoken favorably about in terms of Cyberpunk ACKS), carries with it the promise of supplemental material, and (even if I do say so myself) is a great setting that would be a lot of fun to play in.

I cannot wait to ship Dungeon Grappling to backers, and then start on what will be an even larger project, one that has the same strong team behind it, supplemented by some real powerhouses.

Onward!

Update: Financials

One thing occurred to me here, which was an update on the financial status of Gaming Ballistic, LLC.

think I’ve gotten all of the actuals entered into my sheet, but over the last year, Gaming Ballistic paid and received the following:

  • Donations: ($150)
  • Expenses: ($5,204)
  • Revenue: 4,544
  • Pending Expenses: ($1501) for art
  • Pending Revenue: $281 for Backerkit add-ons not yet received
  • Expected Net: ($2,030)

Note that above I show some pre-payments and investments on Dragon Heresy, and that amount was $1,390 in actuals and about $706 in pending payments, for a total of just under $2,100. Legal fees that are project independent are also included. I will also be spending $1,562 on printing and shipping Dungeon Grappling books and PDFs add-ons. There’s an unassigned “currency transfer” that is almost certainly Dungeon Grappling related.

Breaking it down, and assigning roughly 706 in pending expenses for Dragon Heresy and a net of $2,076 in expenses for Dungeon Grappling:

  • Dragon Heresy: Invested $2,650
  • Dungeon Grappling: Profit of $107
  • Administration and Setup of Gaming Ballistic: $903
  • Donations: Spent $150

So Dungeon Grappling as a stand-alone project is in the black. Dragon Heresy is in the red and will be for a while. Setup costs and donations are what they are.

Still not bad.

 

The weekly update comes round at last. Thankful, I am, for my backers and those also telling me “Yeah, grappling, but I can’t wait for Dragon Heresy.” Keeps me going.

Administrationgb-google

I was on the Round Table with James Introcaso for Ep 146. It was a fantastic 75 minutes of conversation, and we talked RPG design, my Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter, Dragon Heresy, and why I like 5th Edition.

I procured and utilized a “licensing for existing works” contract. That was a good addition to my repertoire of agreements, and Real Soon Now I’ll procure a retail sales agreement template. That should be what I need: create stuff (professional services agreement), use other folks’ stuff (licensing of existing works), sell stuff.

I continue to realize that my marketing reach is growing, but not all it could be. I would encourage folks that are interested in Gaming Ballistic products to join the Gaming Ballistic Google+ group, for starters. Once the Dungeon Grappling RPG supplement goes on sale both here and on DTRPG/RPGNow, TableTop Library, and Amazon, I’ll be taking the next steps there. I will probably also go to either fortnightly or monthly updates for GB, to avoid the appearance/reality of spam.

The Kickstarter is almost 3/4 complete, both from a timing and funding perspective. I’ve learned a bloody ton about them for use in the next one, though some of the final bits – the Backerkit survey, how product is delivered, etc., are still in the future. Also: how and when to get paid. Judging from the Dungeon Fantasy RPG KS, that isn’t just “snap your fingers and get cash.”

Otherwise, it’s late November, so I need to decide when the fiscal year of Gaming Ballistic ends, for tax purposes. I understand that is arbitrary to some extent, but I really need to consult with a tax pro lest I do something stupid.

Dungeon Grapplinglady-and-the-minotaur

As noted, the Kickstarter is heading to the end of it’s 3rd week (of four) and is trending to a pretty happy place. The ultimate desire is something like $5,000, which will give me the ability to write checks for the amount of about $3,000-$3,300 (a lot of that $5K goes to print and ship costs for the physical product parts of the KS). That pays for:

  • Layout
  • Indexing
  • Contributor Payments
  • Background art for chapter-break pages
  • The 3D art for making the video
  • Some legal fees
  • Help assembling the cover images into a print-ready PDF file
  • eBook layout (single column, no art, yes tables, black and white only)
  • Full color interior art (22 pieces, 331 square inches)
  • A custom cover (an 11 x 11.5 cover art image, which will leave room for text on the side. I like how the D&D books do that – full fidelity to a great image, but clear space on the back for text.

One thing I have noticed – and it’s to be expected – is that folks are starting to move in and out of pledge levels. I would be very interested to know why someone might drop down to a $1 level, or perhaps go from print to PDF, etc.

By and large, I’m in a working mode here, with my artists doing and improving sketches. I’ve got solid submissions from two, and am working with the other two to get to that stage. I’m far from the point of being nervious in any way about timing.

Oh, and here’s a tip: never, ever buy a barcode from Bowker, though you will need to source your ISBNs from them. Why not? Because of this: Free online barcode generator. It might take some doing to figure out exactly how to use it, but it’s FREE, and if you vacillate on pricing, or whatever, you can just generate a new one.

Otherwise, steady as she goes, I think.

Dragon Heresydragonsigilcolor-3

The Big Project got some work this week too, with me updating monsters from my contributors into The Book of Deeds, and also reverse-integrating Dungeon Grappling into The Book of Heroes. I’m on a long business trip to Thailand in December, and I expect I will spend many nights banging away at monster writeups and re-reading both books for edits and progress. I know I need to re-look at the Ranger class writeup, as well as the Druid. The Book of Deeds needs a read-through. But still, closing in on the “done writing” point that enables me to get into the editing and art direction, and maybe even a bit of layout. Even indexing can start.

That’s going to require me reaching out to my team and seeing when the engagement point is. I was hoping in my wildest dreams that there’d be enough influx from Dungeon Grappling to allow me to subsidize the Dragon Heresy project with that revenue. That still might happen with retail sales, but probably not to the extent I was hoping. I guess Dungeon Grappling could explode in the last week or so. Stranger things have happened.

Administrationgb-google

Still working the kickstarter, of course! Things are going well, and the KS is trending to roughly hit the “full color” stretch goal. Of course, in my Update #11 I promised to deliver full-color anyway, but having all of that art fully covered would be nice, and if we overfunded my team could get bonuses. I’d like that, and so would they.

I was on Shane Plays radio last weekend, and we had a great talk about gaming in general. You can find it on podcast here. That was my first time doing live radio, so new experience for me.

also recorded a session with James Introcaso on his Round Table, and we spoke for quite a while. That podcast should go live Monday, and we spent a great deal of time getting into grappling and game design, and why Dungeon Grappling scratches that particular itch better than other rules may have. It was a great conversation, and I hope you can make time for it. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic LLC – Update for 11/18”

I know my blog has been filled with Kickstarter reports these days. It is, of course, rather important to me to make the best book I can, and in order to do that, I would need to bring in about $4,800, which means I’m roughly halfway there (though the project has funded and will be made regardless – each extra chunk of money just makes it more attractive).

In any case, a fun article that can be read tongue-in-cheek but really isn’t showed up on the Cirsova blog.

Called Parrying: I get it now, it goes over a point of potential misunderstanding in OSR rules – namely that once engaged in melee combat, two foes are “locked” there. Therefore, having a defensive option such as “parry,” which makes one harder to hit, is a synergistic move, because it allows your fellow combatants – archers, spellcasters, and backstabbers – to destroy the foe safely and quickly, while the low Armor Class, high Hit Point fighter keeps him occupied.

The only problem with these “parry” type options in D&D style games tends to be the very, very mild benefit that one gets. Fifth Edition does it perhaps the best by granting disadvantage if an option like this is taken – this option is Dodge, and unless the odds are already really good for your foe, or really bad, this decreases your chance to be hit by about 25%. That’s much better than a shield (10%) in this system, and in most systems that shield is only worth 5% (+1).

Note: I reflexively use ascending Armor Class in my writing, since I’ve been writing based on SRD5.1 for almost a year, and even when we played S&W, we used ascending AC.

But it got me thinking. How many defensive options exist in Dragon Heresy?  Continue reading “Defensive Options in Dragon Heresy”

Administration

The alpha and the omega of GBLLC this week was the Kickstarter – the video prep, the launch, and hitting F5 like a ferret on crack all week.

In other news, I’ll be on the Shane Plays radio show from basically 1-2pm tomorrow. Not sure what Shane’s going to ask me about, but I’m sure we’ll cover GURPS, Dragon Heresy, and of course Dungeon Grappling.

Dragon Heresy

No progress this week, really.

Dungeon Grappling

Well, lots of news here, of course.

Started the Kickstarter on time, and hit 70% funding on Day one (about $900). Since rumor and rule of thumb predicts that you’ll get about 3x your first day’s total, that’s funding, but not all the stretch goals. However, the DFRPG hit 6-7x with a nice, steady ascent, which for me would be $5,0000-$6,000. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic, LLC – Update for 11/11”

Setting the Stage

Today Jeffro Johnson linked to a post by The Frisky Pagan where the author analyzes in some depth that Hit Points aren’t really wound points, and why. I pointed out what I call “The Quote,” which is found on p. 82 of the 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide:

“It is quite unreasonable to assume that as a character gains levels of ability in his or her class that a corresponding gain in actual ability to sustain physical damage takes place. It is preposterous to state such an assumption, for if we are to assume that a man is killed by a sword thrust which does 4 hit points of damage, we must similarly assume that a hero could, on the average, withstand five such thrusts before being slain! Why then the increase in hit points? Because these reflect both the actual physical ability of the character to withstand damage – as indicated by constitution bonuses- and a commensurate increase in such areas as skill in combat and similar life-or-death situations, the “sixth sense” which warns the individual of some otherwise unforeseen events, sheer luck, and the fantastic provisions of magical protections and/or divine protection.”

Frisky acknowledged gracefully that reading the original source material is good – in his defense, I think Jeffro has articulated before that no one really knows or can suss out completely all of the gems buried in the barely-edited, scarcely-organized AD&D books.

But that’s not why I’m posting – even though The Frisky Pagan’s post is basically a giant endorsement of the tack I’m taking in Dragon Heresy.

No, the cool bits happened in the comments for Jeffro’s post. Continue reading “Save or Die revisited”

Administrationgb-google

From a company perspective, the coolest thing that happened is the finalization of the look of the website. There are still small tweaks to make, but I love the look. Now it’s time to pivot to enabling e-Commerce so I can sell product and get money, likely by PayPal and Credit Card only, both enabled through PayPal.

I also installed JetPack, so sharing posts to G+, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter is now a two-click process or so.

Next will be redirecting traffic from the old blog to this one.

Dungeon Grappling

I finished the last edits on the manuscript, adding rules for hurting people without injuring them (making them want to tap out). I think the new rule is a nice balance between a viable effect and loss of player agency. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic, LLC – Update for 10/28”