The moment I’ve been waiting for. I hope you have too. There’s good news and bad news.

The Bad News

Let’s start with the bad news, because other than a few things to adjust, the rest is just freakin’ great.

There are maybe three or four things that need fixin’:

  • One of the pages had a legit whoops. The printer must have run out of ink or something. I’m hoping that quality control would have caught that, ’cause dang.
  • The goblin warrens maps were left out of the document. That’s an issue, because I’m out of space. I have a few ideas. The maps as they are are quite large, and done in full-page mode anyway. I can make them bigger, overlapping the page borders, and that would do it. I hate to lose the Dragon Heresy teaser or any of the other info. I’ll probably do that.
  • One map is labeled “When Norðalfar Attack!” instead of “When Goblins Attack!” That’s a quick fix.
  • There might be typos or other errors, but I’ll do a read-through word-by word with the pages in hand tonight. It’s always easier when you can look at the pages.

And that’s all for errors. One legit printer muck-up, and the rest are really my problem.

The Good News

The book is going to look amazing. Let’s start with the cover, and see how it stacks up with other books. Oh . . . one thing before I go nuts pasting pictures. This is an unbound proof. So don’t look at images where pages show through on the cover and judge the binding. There’s isn’t binding yet. That makes it easier to inspect the quality of the complete page.

The Cover

The Interior

Hall of Judgment - 128 pages; Lost Hall 2.0 - 112 pages. That's THICK paper.
Hall of Judgment – 128 pages; Lost Hall 2.0 – 112 pages. That’s THICK paper.
Oops. Won't ship the book like this!
Oops. Won’t ship the book like this!

Final Word

So, there are a few things to fix. Once that’s done, though – these guys did a nice job, and I look forward to doing more work with them in the near future.

I think you’ll like the heft and feel of the book when you get it. The colors are nice, the cover and paper tangibly good quality, and it stacks up as a nice companion to the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.

I’ll read and correct errors tonight. Not entirely sure if they’ll want me to send over pages, or an entire file (no problem either way). After that, I suspect it will be a quick turn for printing, and then I’ll get shipping going.

Major milestone!

So, the files have been sent to the two printers: one in the UK, and one here in the USA. I made payment as well, and folks are talking about pre-press (a day or two) followed by perhaps three weeks of printing after proof approval, and that usually takes about a week. In both cases I’ve asked for hard-copy proofs, to check color and binding.
If that happens, I expect to have books ready to ship out by the first or second week in March, that means that by mid-March, the US and UK customers should have their books, and by the end of March or early April, everyone. Even the Aussie, I hope.
The details:
US Books: Preflight is today and tomorrow. Proofing is rapid but usually takes about a week. Then three weeks of printing. I should have books at my house by March 7, which means that I can pack ’em up and ship ’em out by the end of that weekend. Arrival in-hand March 13-22, depending on the USPS. Print copies will be about 9mm thick, printed on 100# matte paper.
International Books: Preflight is tonight. Proofing has to ship to me from the UK, but that has been quite fast in the past. I’ve tried to sneak the title and logos onto the spin, which is a bit thinner (about 6-6.5mm) due to slighly lighter weight paper stock for this printer (130gsm/85#). Assuming this printing looks as good as Hall of Judgment (no reason it should not!), and that they don’t reject my spine information, I’d expect the books to arrive at Kixto, my fulfillment partner in the UK, by the second week in march. From there, we have one going to Australia, one to Korea, and the rest either the UK or EU, so those should be fast. I’m still thinking late March or Early April. For the two folks that also ordered copies of Dragon Heresy in Hardback, I’ll send those separately.
Even so, it looks like the project will complete 2-3 months ahead of schedule.

It’s Happening

The pre-final PDF for the 2nd Edition of Lost Hall of Tyr has just been distributed to everyone who ordered Lost Hall in all of my Kickstarters. Please take a look! Check it out, read it, see if you can find any typos (I left at least one as a test . . . can you find it?)I’m going to give a week or so to get error reports in the file so that the version that goes to print is as perfect as we can make it.

What can you do?

There are several things I need you to do if you get the new version:
  • Check your name in the Kickstarter backer list. I tried to keep the surveys blazingly short this time, so I used other information to credit you as a backer. See if I got it right. Email me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com if I didn’t.
  • Check for typos. Please. My eyes blur over with too much staring at the screen.
  • Look for “oops, you forgot to convert that.” The 2nd edition of Lost Hall owes a lot to Hall of Judgment, which is Powered by GURPS. I think I got all of that converted back to Dragon Heresy . . . but since I’m so familiar with both systems, I might have missed a few.
  • Read it, comment on it, and review it. Ideally in public. We’re really not that far away from the big offset print run, and if you like the new version, please say so loudly and frequently.
  • Play it!! I can’t emphasize this enough, but the more it gets played, the better I’ll know what works (and I should repeat in the future), and what doesn’t.
  • Check for WTF moments in DCs. I’m pretty sure I got ’em right, but if there’s a TPK hidden in there or the thing’s a cakewalk . . . I kinda want to fix it.
  • Finally: Play it in 5e or Swords and Wizardry! It should be straight-forward, but if there’s a bit more conversion work that needs to be done, well, I’ve got a blank page at the end and I can do something, whether it’s a quick afterword or a more detailed conversion note.
  • Show it to your Favorite Local Game Store owners and buyers. A few retail purchases will get us to an even higher quality printing.

The Beginning of the End

The distribution of the pre-final PDF marks the beginning of the end of this campaign. I think we made a great book, and I’m thrilled how well Juan and Glynn delivered on their part of the tasks. Once we settle the PDF, I’ll send it to print. I expect a six to eight week turn-around if we go digital (as I expect), but if a few folks throw in for retail levels, or we get one or two shields . . . we’re there. That would push print receipt to the 12-16 week delivery zone, but we’ll ALL be happier with the result.Thank you so much for helping make this happen!
Oh . . . you don’t have it, but you want to?

It’s not too late to pre-order

Juan Ochoa has been my partner in crime on a lot of the work at Gaming Ballistic. He did some of the original images on the pre-visualization art for Dragon Heresy long  before the Kickstarter happened, and has contributed between “some” (Dungeon Grappling) and “a whole lot” (every other book) of art since, including the cover of the original Lost Hall, Hall of Judgment, and the update of the cover for the 2nd Edition of Lost Hall, the original version of which you’ve all seen. But now, the final cover image is in!
Here’s the first one:
Original Lost Hall 2e Cover Composition
Original Lost Hall 2e Cover Composition

He never really liked it though. The color balance was off, he didn’t like our spear-wielder’s face, and a few other things. We talked about it, and he said he didn’t like it enough that he didn’t want to look at it on the final product – he knew he could do better.

We chatted about the new version, and then . . . he went away.

And now he’s back, just in time to upload a new cover on this last day of the Backerkit phase. Good timing, that.

I like this one. I like the extra detail on the spear-wielder, the increased detail on the undead, and keeping fewer figures in the image.

I hope you like it too – this will be the one that goes to print.

Which reminds me: back to work for me!

We are less than $500 away from getting to a lay-flat, sewn-binding softcover book on glorious 105# (157gsm) matte paper. $1500 from getting it in hardcover. If you’re a retailer, there are some “buy two book-bundles” and “buy four book bundles” pre-discounted for resale. Ten four-book (4 each of Dragon Heresy and Lost Hall 2e) bundles get us the hardcover. Three or four get us the softcover. We are truly close.

Pre-Order Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) for the Dragon Heresy RPG

This morning I locked existing orders and charged cards for the Lost Hall of Tyr expanded/revised edition. There were a few that didn’t go through, and there are still six or seven folks that need to complete their surveys. Even so: if your card was charged, you should find an email with your digital downloads for your PDF files in your mailbox. I have one or two more files to send out: the map packs for those that got Hall of Judgment in digital form, which will be tonight. I’ll also prep the map packs for the NEW maps for Lost Hall 2, and everyone will get those . . . they’re done, while the final checks on the actual game PDF will be my task this weekend.

And so it begins.

If you still want to get in on Lost Hall of Tyr – which is native to Dragon Heresy, but can be run in straight-up Fifth Edition, or with Swords & Wizardry – it’s not too late! We are perhaps $450 in non-shipping pre-orders and add-ons from being able to upgrade to the offset print run, which will get still-heavier paper for the book, deliver a sewn and lay-flat binding, and print up enough copies to push the book into retail shelves to sit alongside of the Dragon Heresy core book.

Granted, that last one is mostly important for me, but the best way to see more Dragon Heresy product is to help people find it, play it, and talk about it!

 

We’re coming down to the end now. This Friday, on Jan 25, the Backerkit phase for Lost Hall of Tyr (updated and expanded!) will end. What does that mean?

1) I will lock all orders currently placed, and start the process of charging cards.

2) For those folks whose cards successfully go through, I will immediately send out the electronic copies of all existing files: Dragon Heresy, Dungeon Grappling, and Hall of Judgment PDFs

3) I will get to work finalizing the last stages of the 2nd Edition of Lost Hall of Tyr, which mostly involves calculating experience point totals for encounters, a bit more DC conversion, and writing conversion guidelines and some flowcharts to help with Dragon Heresy stuff.

Then I’ll send out the pre-final PDF, and give y’all some time to look at it and comment on any typos and whatnot. When those are fixed, I’ll update, send out the final PDF, upload that same new PDF to DriveThru for sale, and place the print order.

At this time – though we’re only about $500 shy of the $6,000 offset goal – it appears that the print copies will be done by short-run digital printing. It’ll be a nice run, so no worries.

There are only ten people who haven’t yet filled out their survey, and maybe eight or nine of those have physical product coming, so I must have your information to get you your books.

So if you’re going to do add-ons or get one of those sweet shields, now is the time. If you’re not getting anything else . . . now is still the time. If you want to place a pre-order, it’s not too late!

Thanks! I look forward to finishing up this project for you and getting on to what is shaping up to be an amazingly busy 2019.

Douglas

In the Dragon Heresy game from last week, the GM had us eventually match up with Loki himself. He’d kidnapped Santa Claus, you see. We challenged Loki to a game of musical chairs. Yes, really.

A few things bore mentioning that were of interest to me. None of these were Dragon Heresy specific, just observations.

One of the players was reaching for her dice saying “I shoot him” with an arrow. Fortunately, that was never resolved. Were I the GM, it would not have ended well; either that, or Loki would have just waved his hand or phased around the shot at least the first time. But frack me, it’s Loki. Taking a pot shot at the Asgardian god of Mischief is an offense punishable by “it takes three days to find all the pieces of you squashed on the floor.”

The GM had us make a single die roll, and Loki rolled the lowest; we beat him on the first round, and thereby saved Yule/Ylir/Christmas. Afterwards, she expressed some disappointment that the contest was over that quickly.

It is likely she hadn’t statted out Loki fully; certainly she didn’t give him the kind of bonuses and proficiencies he should have had relative to a 1st level character . . . or maybe she did. If the Divine Mr L had Proficiency of +6 and a stat bonus of +7 or so, it’s a lower bound of 14. We all did roll very well.

I suggested to her that for things like this where you don’t want luck to completely dominate, you can tame the variability of a flat-roll 1d20 with several methods:

  • Roll 3d6 instead of 1d20, which will tend to actually center around 10, meaning the proficiency and skill bonus would prove the most important
  • Give Loki advantage: he’s a god for goodness’ sake
  • Break it up into two rolls, which will favor the one with the highest bonuses due to averaging. First roll is to realize the music stopped, which would be a Perception check. Loki almost certainly has high WIS and CHA, so on the average he’d probably be among the first to hear it’s time to lunge for chairs. THEN a Dexterity or even Acrobatics or Athletics roll, but made with disadvantage if you rolled a lower Perception check than Loki. Or just apply the margin of victory or defeat relative to Loki’s Perception check to the roll to grab a seat.

That last one is nice, in my opinion, because it’s multiple attribute dependent. You’ll want someone good at WIS and STR or DEX rather than just one; that should prolong the contest.

I also noted that there were, in fact, rules for a ritual exchange of insults (flyting) in Dragon Heresy on page whatever. Would have been apropos.

Juan’s been busy with life, but we reconnected, and his comment was “Well, I hated the composition of my first cover, so I’m doing it over.” So he sent me a Lost Hall of Tyr 2nd Edition new cover WIP!

Here’s the new composition as it stands.

We should be seeing a final full-color version on Friday!

If it strikes your fancy, pre-order it on Backerkit! You’ll have it before June . . . maybe sooner.

 

Daniel over at Mailanka’s Musings has a nice post on Map-Making in Theory and Practice. In short: a million times yes. I have to echo his throughts on Maps and Inspiration: a good map is really, really inspiring.

Started with a Map

It works both ways, too. In my Torengar/Nordlond setting for Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment and Lost Hall of Tyr, the map came first. I set up a history using Microscope and another “game to play a game” kit that I can’t remember anymore that helped set up the long prelude to the current state of the main realm. I drew up some key terrain features that appeared to be important, and then commissioned Cornelia Yoder to make me some maps.

I have since been leveraging those maps heavily in making the details of my setting sing. This is particularly true of the mini-setting I’m working on for what will hopefully be my first-quarter Kickstarter: The Citadel at Nordvorn.

Featuring the titular town of Nordvorn with its adjoining citadel, there are also three other important towns and villages of note, one of them destroyed.

The town of Ainferill (Riverbend) sits about 40 miles south of Nordvorn on the Jotunnain (a river; áin means river; I think properly conjugated it should be Jotunná, but I have it as “fun” that the northern areas use áin and the southern areas use á, as sort of a regional accent thing). It’s a town of about 1,000 souls, or about 200 families, give or take. It’s the seat of a Jarl, the second tier of noble, but they still have to get the king something like $10M per year in GURPS moneys, or about 200,000 gp in D&D moneys, as a Duty to keep the title.

Just north of Ainferill is the slightly smaller (750 people) town of Vegghofn (Sallyport), which marks the last easily-accessible break in Audreyn’s Wall (think in between Hadrian’s wall and the Great Wall of China) until the other side of a mountain range that the wall jogs around for Reasons.

Anyway, point is: I am detailing these three settlements. What are the important guilds? Why have guilds at all? What industries or products make each town unique? Why should there be a town here at all?

Greater Torengar/Nordlond

This is my realm map. What can I say about it? Well, it’s got heavy forest, plains, and lightly wooded or intermediate areas. These divide out nicely into “logging and forestry,” “grazing lands,” and “farming” when it comes to surplus products for more than just surviving. It’s a high-level thing, but it’s informative.

The cities cluster densely in the farming area (blue). More food, better climate, more trade, higher population density. The capital is also there.

A Slice of Nordlond

Hey, what do we have here? A slice of Nordlond/Torengar, with Isfjall from Hall of Judgment in the west, and stretching to Midgard in the East.

From Isfjall to Midgard and beyond. Still copyright Cornelia and licensed to me.

Northwatch is Nordvorn – one means the other. But it’s maybe 250 miles east of Isfjall, so it’s a hike if you walk it. But why would you? Take a boat and sail down the Wodenain to Nethanfoss, then it’s maybe 50 miles along the “Palisade Road,” which isn’t shown on the map. That should be an exciting trip, since the area to the Northwest of the Palisade is called The Hunted Lands, home to marauding faerie and more than its fair share of monstrosities, undead, constructs, and other things that wish to eat you.

But the map informs this. How long will it take to get there? Well, big rivers tend to move at a few miles per hour, 1-5 mph not being unusual. So the 200 mile trip on the river could be as fast as 40 hours, or two days, or as long as a week. Plenty of time in either case for a few encounters with river raiders or river-dwelling monsters, but not so long that the game will drag.

That last 50 miles to Northwatch from Nethanfoss is probably a few days hike as well, and while the path/road is guarded, it’s still dangerous lands.

That makes Nethanfoss a very interesting market. It has access to both grazing lands, water, and abuts the Einmanna forest. And it’s a crossroads, being the natural departure point for goods to come east from the settlements along the Wodenain.

All this from the map.

Ainferill

Now we venture south from Nordvorn, because there’s been a rumor that the Jarl is hiring adventurers. Or maybe killing them. It’s Nordlond: perhaps it’s both.

In any event, what’s going on at the Riverbend? Well, it’s got woods. It’s adjacent to a metal-rich mountain/range. It’s got grazing land. And it’s at a convenient stopping place for ships coming upriver to rest and get ready for a hard pull into the faster-flowing stretch of the river from Ainferill to Nordvorn.

If you do a bit of line work, you can see that the Jarl probably controls about 265 square miles of land, and about half of that is grazing land – ideal for sheep – that is mostly plains. The other half, to the north and west, is lightly wooded, leading to thicker woods in the Einmanna Forest.

OK. So we have wood, metal, wool, and cattle and goats. This is a shipbuilding town. It’s also one of the towns (the two south of Ainferill and west of Jarngardr are two more) from which a whole lot of sheep are raised and turned into wool, cloth, clothing, and other products.

This is a jarl whose income depends on wool, cattle, ships, and trade. That’s what he’s going to care about, and that’s where threats to his power – or extensions of it – will come from. Does he mine in the hills just across the river? Does the hajarl of Midgard resent this? Ainferill could sit in the demesne of either Northwatch or Midgard – are the jarl’s loyalties solid, or being tested?

What about bandits? Or monsters? If you do the work, something that between some expert help and the Adventurer Conqueror King books domain rules make easy, you can see that monsters or monstrous people killing or taking livestock will really honk off our jarl, as as much as 25% of his Duty – maybe more – can come out of the income stream from wool and cloth.

But . . . karls (freeholders) own their own lands. How does that work? Well, that’s where the guilds come in. That worked out nicely too.

Parting Shot

I spent a lot of time last night working with the map, agricultural data, and conversing with some experts to turn this slice of Nordlond into a living world. Not only is it living and hopefully provides some immersive detail, but it becomes something from which you can really see how folks might wish to bring an adventuring party on board to deal with problems.

Suffice to say that the tie of personality, economics and trade are all made more obvious with a good map. A map, a knowledge of what can be grown and made with certain natural resources, a feel for the personalities of the leaders and citizens and what they care about . . . and the adventures flow easily. Especially when the area in question has recently undergone some . . . rather dramatic calamities.

Stay tuned. Hopefully you’ll see this one pop up in the first quarter of this year!

I got to play Dragon Heresy in a game run by a young lady my own system on Friday. She’d either never or rarely GM’d before. She decided to run in my book, as her dad was a supporter of both the original Lost Hall as well as Dragon Heresy. My take-aways?

The Good

  • The world is compelling and immersive. She grabbed on to the details and hooks provided by the map of Torengar every bit as much as I’d hoped.
  • Northwatch really is a compelling spot on that map, and I’m glad my upcoming release will detail the heck out of it
  • The grappling system, also available as a stand-alone in Dungeon Grappling, really is that good. Everyone got it, everyone used it, no complaints. Seamless.
  • It was amenable to fast play in a two hour session by a new GM. So very accessible.
  • The final confrontation was not combat; she ran a nifty scenario where we had to play against Loki himself. I showed her the flyting rules after the fact, and she really liked them.

To be Improved

  • The real area that stuck out as a stumbling point was a stumbling point on remembering that a swift attack (like an arrow from a bow) is quite nasty: it only has to meet the lower Threat DC unless the target has a shield.
  • It didn’t come up much, but the decision to employ a Frantic Defense to avoid taking wounds if a target is attacked and its Hit DC is exceeded happens before armor is subtracted.
  • The ranged combat tweaks in general are more extensive than melee.

There’s an obvious fix for this: a short flowchart. Ideally something that fits on a 3×5 or playing card. Once you get the system, it’s very smooth. But a quick reference for ranged and melee combat that would fit on the back of a playing card is now on my radar.

All in all, she designed and executed a two-hour scenario that finished in two hours, which is amazing for a new GM, so well done to her on that.

As for my part, I kept my promise. I answered questions where prompted, she ran the game, and I shut up and played my character.

Good game.