What Now?

Breathing is good and important. It’s been a real sprint here at Gaming Ballistic since April 1. That day, SJG and Gaming Ballistic announced the conversion of Lost Hall of Tyr to the Dungeon Fantasy RPGand the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set went live on Kickstarter.

Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment

A month later, I’d met the goal for an offset print run, and got busy – very busy – finishing up the PDF for Dragon Heresy. The PDF went out to backers on June 17; the printable PDF (higher resolution but flat file with no hyperlinks) went to AsiaPacific Offset on June 18. The Hall of Judgment Kickstarter launched June 19.

That one was my best Kickstarter yet. More backers than any of my prior projects by a long way, and frankly, a better “mix ratio” of print to PDF than other projects as well. Nearly 2/3 of backers wanted a physical copy of the book. My best estimates put that mix at 50%. Also: there were 1,587 backers of the box set RPG: 1/3 of that number is 529, which is coincidentally exactly the same number of backers that Hall of Judgment got. Since the typical group seems to be about 5 people including the GM, really anything more than a 20% hit rate is amazing, and Hall of Judgment did quite a bit better than that!

Fulfillment

The Dragon Heresy books are “on the water,” and should arrive at Studio 2 on October 8. I’ll get a sub-shipment of 320 books a few days later, so by the end of that week, I hope to have all domestic books in the mail, which means that with little room to spare, the “October” promised delivery date for all rewards will be met.

The first two cartons of Hall of Judgment (about 120 books) arrived at my house yesterday, and all of them but a few have been boxed up and mailed off already. The remaining five cartons should arrive at my house by noon today, and I will begin the process of finishing up shipment there. Folks will start receiving their books next week, then, and might extend into the 3rd week of September. The promised delivery date for rewards was August; some of our not-the-USA friends did actually get their physical copies in the trailing days of August, and I apologize to the US crowd for the month of delay. I do think, however, having finally held the book in my hands, that you will be pleased.

That does mean, though, that I’ve been hard at it for six months straight. It’s been a wee bit of a sprint, especially with a day job. But now my kids are back in school again and my schedule should be normalizing. I hope. That means my breather, such as it is, is over. Continue reading “A Pause to Breathe: OK, that’s done”

It’s fulfillment week for two of my Kickstarters, whose physical product are coming due at roughly the same time. So: dual-wielding emails! (I picked up that proficiency/specialization over the last few months)

Other Books

If you are not in the USA and ordered Dungeon Grappling or Lost Hall of Tyr  as a physical copy from either the Hall of Judgment or Dragon Heresy Kickstarters, your books are now on the way. I placed the orders for six folks for Dungeon Grappling, and two more for Lost Hall (both of those from the Dragon Heresy KS). I have contacted the backers with a personal email with a copy of the info forwarded to me, as well as an order number.

Any issues, let me know. The UK product should show up within two weeks. Italy shortly thereafter. The Australia/New Zealand can take days or weeks, depending on when things fall together. But do contact me if things don’t move sprightly as things go forward.

Hall of Judgment

I’ve heard from Kixto in the UK, and they’re in the process of filling the HoJ orders for international folks, after which they’ll forward the rest of the orders to me via airmail. That still means that it’s not crazy-talk for me to see a pallet of books on my floor by the end of the week, or perhaps the weekend. This weekend is a holiday weekend in the US (Labor Day) and I’ll be at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival all three days doing Viking Martial Arts demonstrations . . . but as soon as it’s remotely possible, I’ll bundle your HoJ books and any other physical product that you’ve ordered into one shipping box and get them on the way by next week at the latest. So on schedule for Sept 15.

Dragon Heresy

The Dragon Heresy books are still going to be the last to leave. The books are done, and 50 books will head over to Dice Latte in Korea as soon as a few customs issues are sorted out and folks get back from vacation. Then the international copies for both DH and HoJ Kickstarters will go out. Sometime this week, I expect the books (nearly 1,500 of them) to move to staging at the shipyard, and then three weeks on the water to the USA. Then another week to get to Studio 2 in TN, and finally they’ll break the order into “keep ’em!” and “ship to Doug” and then I’ll do fulfillment from my house. So six to seven weeks until books are in-hand: first two weeks in October, I suspect.

Again, the US orders that have Dragon Heresy in them will be sent in one bunch. I will not hold Hall of Judgment waiting for a Dragon Heresy bundle, so if you ordered Dragon Heresy through the HoJ Kickstarter and you’re in the USA, expect two packages: one with HoJ and Dungeon Grappling and/or Lost Hall of Tyr (if you ordered those) and another with Dragon Heresy.

If you’re on the Dragon Heresy KS, you’ll get everything at once.

This will likely be the most eventful two weeks of Gaming Ballistic’s existence, as physical fulfillment begins on two core products.

Lots of things going on, all at once.

Dragon Heresy

Printing is complete. The final tally was 1,530 books printed, which is 2,219 kg of books. Two and a quarter metric tons.

Of that total, perhaps 250-300 are currently spoken for between the backers of either Dragon Heresy or Hall of Judgement, plus the comp copies for contributors.

To deal with that, I entered into an agreement with a distribution company to push the books into retail! This is exciting for me, and the terms are good. Soon, as Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches and the books are in hand, we might start seeing Dragon Heresy on store shelves.

Speaking of which I dropped by Mind’s Eye Comics here in Burnsville, and the new owner Chris and I hit it off pretty well. I suspect I’ll be a regular fixture there, as my daughter loves comic books, and enhancing the presence of gaming and comics in Burnsville, specifically the Burnsville Center Mall, seems like a win to me.

But . . . there will be one-week “get all the paperwork straight” hold, then the books will go three places. To my house (320 books), to Dice Latte in Korea for international shipments (50 books), and the balance into distribution. I will also begin the process to get things carried on Amazon.

Based on probable outcomes, I suspect everyone will have their books by mid-October. Not early, but not late. A Wizardly kind of pace, I suppose.

Hall of Judgment

As anticipated, today I got pinged by the printer in the UK about what to do about the books. I was ready, and closed the pre-orders for Hall of Judgment in Backerkit, delivered the list of “not-the-US” backers and my home address to Kixto (fulfillment company, also in the UK), and provided the required addresses and contact information to get 500 books from the UK to the UK, which really ought to be in the “not hard” category.

I will have a cost estimate by the middle of next week, and shipping should begin by the end of next week. The international books (107 books to 103 backers) will thus start their journey. Some may arrive the first week in September – there are 24 backers in the United Kingdom and there’s no real reason why Royal Mail should take that long to get things in place. Beyond that, it will be a bit of a random number generator, but most international folks should get their stuff in September.

For US backers, let’s assume it takes the better part of a week (first week of Sept) to airmail the stuff to me and then take delivery at my home; most of that is likely paperwork related, since actual travel time from fulfillment to airport to airport to my house is probably 12-24 hours. In any case, once they arrive, I’ll do the Backerkit postage thing (I’ve got my label printer all ready) and get those in the mail. From there, Media Mail is usually less than two weeks. So the US books should arrive in hand by mid-September as well.

Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr

There are perhaps 50 folks that ordered hardcopy of Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr along with the other two kickstarters. I will begin shipping all copies of these books to international backers this week. Those that ordered hardcover will get them fulfilled through DriveThruRPG premium, as that’s the best way to get it to you for not-ridiculous money.

The rest will ship out with HoJ or DH orders, packed together.

New Plans

The next move for Gaming Ballistic is to look into some new projects. I’ve already got at least four concepts being worked, and more news on that when I can say something.

Next I convert Hall of Judgment into Lost Hall of Tyr (Second Edition). This brings all of the work done on Hall of Judgment back into the Dragon Heresy fold. It converts backwards from the Dungeon Fantasy RPG and makes LHoT into a more sandboxy experience instead of the convention-style linear adventure. There are some things I have to work out – the LHoT original layout was 8.5×11, while HoJ was 8×10, for example – but once those decisions are made I should be able to convert HoJ to LHoT(2e) fairly quickly.

Anyone with a PDF of Lost Hall of Tyr (first edition) will get an upgrade for free. The new 2nd Edition upgrade will more directly support Dragon Heresy by tweaking the challenges of the adventures into the 1-5 range supported by the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.

Not sure the timeline on this, but since books are probably arriving in October, well, that seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

It was the moment I’ve been waiting for, and it arrived today. The first six copies of the fully-printed, smyth-sewn, entirely freakin’ awesome Dragon Heresy Introductory Set arrived today by FedEx.

I am utterly blown away. This is a book I think anyone would be proud to put on their shelf. Even better, to take out and play. The production values are ridiculously good. Yeah, I know, it’s my book, but wow.

I’ll put two pictures above the fold, then a bunch more below.

As I said to a backer on my Discord channel: I pulled out all the stops for this book. Every time I had a choice to make between “awesome” and “merely satisfactory” I went with awesome.

I don’t regret it one bit. Neither will you.

(If this looks like something you want on your game store shelf – and you know you do – please contact me directly and we’ll make that happen.)

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy Advance Copies Arrive!”

So, this should be an interesting week.

For one thing, I really don’t have much on my plate from a “writing games” perspective. This is the first time in about four months that this has happened, since Dragon Heresy was immediately (and I do mean right away) followed by Hall of Judgment.

Both are basically done, and out of my hands until it comes time for shipping. Even then, except for the day(s) printing postage and/or actually boxing up hundreds of books, I have those hours back. I’m about to go to sleep before midnight for the first time in a long time that didn’t involve sickness or simply collapsing from exhaustion.

Where do we stand?

Dragon Heresy PDF is long since shipped out. Not much response from it thus far; I hope that changes when the physical books arrive, and folks dig in and really read it. The changes to the base 5e SRD are somewhat simple, but provide a great deal of emergent behavior that everyone from GURPS players to OSR fans to 5e aficionados to Pathfinder folks should like.

This week should see the arrival by FedEx of the final signature, which I sent back for corrections. That was on my end, not theirs, so that delay is on me, but I saw a mistake (some formatting) and I fixed it. After that, I’ll give permission to print and bind, and then in a week or two I’ll start seeing advanced copies and basically be ready to give ship approval. About 30 copies will go out to backers of both the DH kickstarter and the HoJ one who live in “not the USA,” and the rest – about 1,470 of them – will come to my house, and about 250 (ish) will then depart for places here in the USA and Puerto Rico. Last week in September or first two weeks in October. So “on time,” if not “ahead of schedule.” Alas.

Also, within about 12-36 hours I should hear back from the Hall of Judgment printer in the UK about pre-press. I’ve paid my deposit (via PayPal! Yay! No wire transfers or certified checks) so I am as current with that vendor as I can be, and if they say “oh, yeah, these files work” I’ll give the go-ahead for printing, which means in about 3-4 weeks they’ll be done, and then another 2-3 weeks to get them sorted out and shipped and received. So really, all these books for both KS will arrive effectively simultaneously.

I’m very proud of both books. For one, they’re very, very pretty. For another, I think they’re legit good work.

But now I need more to do. Fortunately, I do not lack for options. If nothing else, I need to convert Hall of Judgment into Lost Hall of Tyr, 2nd Edition. Then it will be the adventure it needs to be.

More on that later.

Fold and Gather samples for Dragon Heresy are here!

So, it’s one thing to look at individual pages. It’s one thing to look at a PDF on the screen.

It’s quite another to get the entire book very nearly as it will appear in my hands.

Without further blather on my part: pictures.

OK: one bit of blather. I cannot wait for the proofs and finals to be ready. This is going to be a book of which folks take notice. And y’all made it happen.

Lots more pictures below the break…

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Fold and Gather samples arrived. Wow.”

There are some parts of the production of a book that are just no fun at all.

I’m in a few of those parts.

Hall of Judgment

Oh, sure . . . it’s getting done. Bit by bit. I should have another major revision to Hall of Judgment done either late tonight or tomorrow. Hopefully tonight (assuming my cat gets off my manuscript, but there are fairly sure-fire fixes for that).

But this is the part where you read . . . each . . . word . . . carefully to make sure things are just right, and you still manage to miss stuff.

But what’s going on and changed from last time?

  • Lots of revisions to the Backer Credits
  • Updated the front matter to hopefully include all my contributors
  • Updated all of Glynn’s maps to tweak out a few things, like labels
  • Lots of final editing and small corrections
  • Removed some DnD-isms from things
  • Rewriting some descriptives to ensure they jive with the evolving monster bits
  • Completely re-did the cover . . . and got word from the printer that it looks pretty good

There might be other things too. But I still feel like I’m on track to deliver the finished product to backers next week, on schedule.

Dragon Heresy

We’re in a bit of a dead zone here. The “F&G” (Fold and Gather) milestone “should be” coming up by Friday. If those are OK (and I’m not sure if I get samples or no), I give the “OK to bind” with the first advanced copies of the book arriving to me at the end of the first full week in August. If that’s what I think it is, it’ll be the first time I hold Dragon Heresy as it’s meant to be (well, as the Introductory Set is meant to be!) in my hands. That will be a good day.

Other Things

As with many others, I was saddened to hear that business conditions have led to the shuttering (at least temporarily, but plan for the worst, hope for the best applies) of Pyramid Magazine.

I got my start there, and in a very real way, a succession of Pyramid editors taught me how to write and organize text. I list my 13 Pyramid articles proudly on my resume, and in no small part, I know that my history with Pyramid plus my playtesting org skills got me the nod to be the first third-party publisher for the DFRPG.

It served as a garden where the seeds of future authors were sown and watered, and those of us that had been published there would frequently go out of our way to help others. For 25 years, it was a monthly dose of GURPS and Powered by GURPS.

Alas, and farewell.

So, it’s time. Dragon Heresy print approval has been secured.

This morning I received notification that my acceptance of the final proofs has initiated the printing process. Just need to mail ’em a check, which I will do this very day.

This means I’ll be locking down addresses so I can start the process of figuring out fulfillment and how to get the books to folks.

Allowing for the two-day delay adjusts the anticipated schedule to this:

US Backers/Pre-Orders

  • July 10: I give the OK to print
  • July 27: Fold-and-gather samples are ready
  • July 30: I give permission to bind the books
  • August 9: Advance prelim copies are shipped to me from the printer
  • Aug 14: Ready to Ship
  • Aug 20: Estimated Departure from Printer[1]
  • September 24: Arrival in MN
  • Mid-October: Books arrive to backers in USA

Not-the-USA Backers/Pre-Orders

  • Aug 20: Estimated Departure from Printer to fulfillment in Korea
  • Aug 27-Sept 4: Arrival in Korea; pack and ship to international
  • Early to Mid October: Books arrive in Not-the-USA

Final Steps

I need folks to validate that their shipping addresses are correct in Backerkit. I will be locking them down on Saturday. From there, I will parse out final distributions. If you’re looking for a shipped book and I don’t have your address, things will get very expensive to fix, though I will leave a few surplus books in Korea to pick up stragglers.

After we lock down and confirm shipping, it’s really all over but the waiting.

Thanks for coming this far. I can’t wait to hold the book in my hands.

I wasn’t happy with two of the images for Dragon Heresy. They’re signature images that were originally part of the first set of “this is how the book will look” color proofs. Now the proof finals are in.

I received the adjusted prints in the mail today, and they’re much better.

There’s not a ton of difference between them but there are a few details that were important that they not be lost in low-contrast/over-dark images.

But these are good. So that means that I’ll send one final reminder on Backerkit, and then lock down shipping addresses. Please see to it that your shipping addresses are correct so there are no mistakes!

Guess that means it’s time to write another big check.

Here we go!

(If you missed the Kickstarter, pre-orders are still being taken! If you are worried about international shipping, I’ve got that covered through splitting off some books to a fulfillment helper in Korea, which will cut the price tag of that quite a bit)

This is mostly a picture dump, but overall, here are my impressions:
  • Readability is excellent. The colors came through very well.
  • The spot finish on the cover may not be fully visible in the image, but it’s awesome
  • Still going to be a pretty book

The mild criticisms. Two are on me.

  • One of the big signature images is misaligned in the borders. I can and will fix that (p. 140)
  • The Gaming Ballistic logo on the spine should get a spot finish and didn’t
  • While overall color fidelity is good, some of the details on one of the important images got obscured in the printing process due to low contrast and a bit of color mismatch.
  • I was supposed to get “wet proofs” of my end sheets, and didn’t

I’ve provided this feedback (and the following pictures) to the printer, but obviously haven’t heard back yet. I also need to do a (gulp) page-by-page inspection of the entire low-quality book block to ensure everything is good, and there are no more p. 140 surprises.

To the pix!

That’s probably good for now, but this is major progress. When I hear back on p. 238 I’ll know more about timing. More later!