As reviews happen regarding my products, I have tried to keep up, and post links Thus far, Dungeon Grappling has been very well received critically. This might be because those that bother to review it are already part of its target audience – confirmation bias. The other side, that everyone knows grappling sucks, grappling rules suck harder, so why bother, is confirmation bias of a different sort.

I will still maintain my contention that grappling needs to be part of any game that features combat, though much like I mention in my Violent Resolution column To the Last, I Grapple with Thee, those rules need not be custom. Night’s Black Agents has its combat rules at such a level of granularity that it would be odd to treat grappling any differently than melee, and that logic is stated right in the book, explicitly. In fact, the less the grappling rules deviate from the regular combat rules, the better they are as an option that can be integrated easily with the normal flow at the table.

Shane was gracious enough to invite me on his program – my first “big” podcast on Dungeon Grappling, undertaken when the Kickstarter was still going, and when I wasn’t used to podcasts, and also before I got comfortable just getting out there with my message: grappling is awesome in real life, deserves to be awesome in games, and adopting a rules set that makes it that way will increase the potential energy of fun available for games.

In addition to having me on Shane Plays, he also independently reviewed the play of the game. And by that, I mean he actually played out some combats using the grappling rules and reported on how it worked for the game. This is great, not just because of the investment, but also because theorycraft is great, but some rules that you’d think are cumbersome by reading them just aren’t, and some that seem great on paper just suck. You can’t always tell until the dice hit the table. (Of course, sometimes you can.)

So to the end first: I think is review is both favorable and accurate. But I also think it presents a take on things that invite comment, so I’m going to indulge in a bit of quote-response.

First, head on over to Shane Plays and read the full review. I’ll wait, but I’m also going to quote selectively, so there may be missing context, and there will be definitely be missing text. His words are in quote-boxes, and mine follow.

Continue reading “Shane Plays Review of Dungeon Grappling – Comments”

The GM’s Day Sale at DriveThruRPG is going on today! Dungeon Grappling is part of it. Get 30% off darn near everything on their site, including my book.

Just to throw in, you can also get 30% off anything you buy on my own webstore through the weekend of March 12, except for The Art of Dungeon Grappling, which is variably priced and goes mostly to charity anyway. Use the code gmday.

Well, another month has come and gone, and what’s happened? More and less than one would think. I’ve been so head-down in doing the projects that my blogging and general evangelism has fallen off a bit.

Dungeon Grappling

Well, the book came out, well ahead of schedule, and in addition to those sales I made during the Kickstarter campaign (about 300), I moved about 24 more. Mostly PDF through DTRPG (15 sales there), and nine more – a healthy mix of print and PDF – personally and through my web store. I sold two copies of The Art of Dungeon Grappling, which is disappointing but perhaps unsurprising, despite the benefit to both charity and the artists.

The reviews have been very positive to date, so I can’t complain about that. Word will hopefully get out, especially as I broaden the applicability of the system and offer more products. Most folks probably just have been so burned with bad grappling in the past that they might not be interested. That was to be expected, I think – it’s a niche product. It’s a good product, but niche.

I will be running a few Dungeon Grappling Smackdown events at GenCon via the Independent Game Designer’s Network. More on that in coming months.

I also released Dungeon Grappling through CreateSpace. That was a bit of a chore, as I actually had to lay out the book again to meet Amazon’s margin requirements. But it’s available as both a softcover and a Kindle book (I’ve sold one Kindle version, and no CreateSpace print copies).

Dragon Heresy

Looking over my blog, I see I’ve not said much about Dragon Heresy. Well, things are moving. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic, LLC – February Update”

A hug is just a grapple that hasn’t achieved a submission yet. 

To help you celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, put the grip of love on friends and monsters alike. All variants of Dungeon Grappling are 14% off for today only!

Use the coupon code HUGS at checkout to claim your discount.

Head over to the Gaming Ballistic Store and put a product in a choke hold today!

Dungeon Grappling is now available on Amazon through CreateSpace.

The paperback (softcover color print) is a matte rather than a gloss cover, and had to get some layout tweaks for margins and borders. The colors are a tetch darker but the contrast is higher, so some subtle details come out differently than the DriveThruRPG product. It’s still a nice book.

The Kindle version (MOBI file) is also now available. This is the same file that was distributed to backers.

When All You Have is an Arm Lock . . . 

From the (backers only) Kickstarter comments came a note that bears, um, noting:

Hey Douglas — what would you recommend when grappling a creature that has a paralyzing attack? Classic example is probably a Ghoul. I would think only a suicidal player would attempt to grapple something like that as it seems like an automatic hit and save required every round. Any thoughts on that?

I think he’s hit the nail on the head there in his own question.

There’s a song by Jim Croce “You don’t mess around with Jim,” where the advice is

“You don’t tug on superman’s cape;

You don’t spit into the wind

You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger;

And you don’t mess around with Jim.”

I think wrestling a ghoul falls into that category!

More seriously, just as hitting something with an axe isn’t always the best answer to every provocation, just because there are (hopefully!) good rules for grappling doesn’t mean you should play to a monster’s strengths.

If you MUST grapple a ghoul, use a ROPE (a lariat, for example, or a whip if your GM lets you make a grappling attack with one). Or a web spell.

Or bash it to death with a pollaxe, because sometimes that is the right answer.

In closing: grappling is another, and obviously I would add crucial, axis of conflict that GMs and players can bring to the fight. You can go for immobilization or you can go for pain or you can go for strangulation or crippling injury. But it’s not always the best answer, and figuring that out can be part of the challenge. There are Norse monsters like draugr that can only be overcome by first grappling it back into its grave.

And then there are paralyzing ghouls one would be unwise to touch. Continue reading “Grappling is the only answer!”

I thought I’d try and sweep up the reviews that have come in for Dungeon Grappling into one place. I may have missed a few, and if that’s the case, please ping me and I’ll add it!

Dungeon Grappling Review (Shane Plays)

I’m not one for suspense in reviews, so I’ll say right off the bat that I feel this is a good product and especially so given this is the author’s first RPG effort that I am aware of outside of articles and supplements for other games.

It offers a rich, alternative and, for the most part, non-lethal combat system that runs in parallel with the existing combat systems in D&D, Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry.

Norbert G. Matausch (Combatives Instructor)

I like it. As a combatives instructor, I like it even more because it does well what all the other grappling rules I know have done poorly or not at all: it really makes grappling interesting. Very cool. Let’s not forget that grappling is as old as mankind, and that it was an important part of every complete weapon fighting system, e.g., medieval sword-fighting schools.

Recommended.

Dust Pan Games (Mark Van Vlack)

“My quick impression after reading through the rules quickly is this. Dungeon Grappling is very well thought out and very well produced supplement for fantasy games. As a supplement “Dungeon Grappling” will be best used by players and game masters who believe grappling is under-served by the rules normally provided in traditional fantasy games. While there is a bit of extra set up and book keeping involved, the result is more detailed and eloquent grappling for your game.

Conclusion: It’s legit. If you think your game will have or should have more grappling, it’s easily worth the purchase.”

ENWorld (Random Bystander)

These grappling rules are unlike any other grappling rules I have ever tried or read. They are fun and easy to use. They flow naturally, and make sense. At no point was I left wondering “How did this happen?” or “Why did this happen?”

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?500121-Dungeon-Grappling-Kickstarter-is-now-live!#ixzz4YFpCS1bV

Games and Geekdom. (What do I know about Reviews?).

“it’s a solid, interesting product for multiple game systems, and it has value beyond literally using it at the table, just to see a well thought out breakdown of the game mechanics used in multiple similar, but different games. In other words, it’s well written, well thought out, and it will be useful and interesting for a wide range of gamers from a variety of systems.

Much like the Book of the Tarrasque, this book showcases what small press publishers can do with a topic that it just doesn’t make sense for major publishers to address.

**** (out of five)”

Misdirected Mark #246.

They took a look at the preview, and in summary:

  • They said it treats grappling the same way that they treat the Tarrasque in their own book, and said that in a positive way
  • Mentioned all the things you can do with it
  • Specifically called out that the book was “gorgeous”
  • Made postive mention of The Art of Dungeon Grappling, with 50% going to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and 35% going as a bonus to the artists.

Castalia House (Jeffro Johnson, In the Mail).

“as much as I love the old games, I have to say… the grappling rules in basically everything in the bad old days were just plain garbage. Just like with old school mega-dungeons and the AD&D domain game, it’s taken a surprisingly long time to sort this out. You’ll probably want two copies, though: one to use with your big pile of ACKS books… and one to loan out to your new school acquaintances! (And I have to say… this book really does set off the ACKS line rather nicely…!)

Check it out!”

Quick Review: Dungeon Grappling – YouTube

Dungeon Grappling – eBook Review | Follow Me And Die!

I have already done a review of an advanced copyPDF, and book for Dungeon Grappling. Doug did above I beyond and along with the PDF released two eBook formats ePub & mobi.

I fired up my Kindle and loaded it up. It is Black & white with no graphics for speed at the table. All the content is otherwise the same. It has the linked table of contents and index like the PDF.

It has a clean and crisp layout. I’ve not tried using my Kindle at the table, but I may have to give it a go.”

Quasar Knight’s Fantasy Blog: KickTracking: Dungeon Grappling.

The book itself is 53 pages, full-color. The artwork is very good, and the meat of the mechanics can be summed up in the use of Control Points, a kind of pseudo-hit point system reflecting how “beaten into submission” a target is in regards to grappling. I can’t help but feel that won’t really cut down on “book-keeping clutter,” for as it is another value to keep track of in regards to hit points, spell slots, etc. Even more so if multiple creatures are grappled or grappling in the same fight.

The book seems rules-heavier than I like, but in regards to individual systems it does seem to make fighters, monks, and martial types quite competent in grappling in Swords & Wizardry. However, in Pathfinder  the problem of huge monsters having extremely high CMD (Combat Maneuver Defense) values is still a problem as the CMD is substituted for a target’s Grapple DC (or the overall defense value when people try to grapple you). As for 5th Edition, the Athletics skill is still important for various grappling moves and defenses, meaning that Bards and Rogues with Expertise and raging Barbarians are still the best class choices for this.

Although I was expecting a more quick and dirty rules-lite option in lieu of a gradient scale, the professionalism and early delivery of the KickStarter  helped earn trust from Gaming Ballistic and any future projects they might have in store.”

Castalia House Blog (Brian Renninger).

“I have greeted with enthusiasm Douglas Coles supplement Dungeon Grappling which introduces an excellent approach to adding wrestling and other unarmed combat to role playing games by adapting systems most players are familiar with. Dungeon Grappling has already been reviewed (see below) in several places so I won’t repeat what has already been said elsewhere other than to give a hearty recommendation for its use. Rather than a review, I thought I’d give a couple examples of how it might work in play.”

Follow Me and Die! (Final PDF Review)

“The PDF comes in at 53 pages, it has awesome art, and the table of contents is hyperlinked. The index also contains hyperlinks to the page numbers. Color coding of the section headers is continued in the table of contents and the index. There is a background image, but unlike most of them I have seen, here it is faded out so I can actually read the text. Attention to the details of both usability and legibility in the text is awesome!

One can take all of this system, or just the parts they need. I play AD&D, and its grappling system is so cumbersome that few dare try it. I plan to implement this in the games I run and an upcoming special project game on Roll20.”

 

Methods and Madness.

Overall, I am impressed with the work. Most problems I’ve noticed were fixed by turning the page – literally. “Wouldn’t it be better if…?”, “Oh, okay”; “But what about …?”, “I see, he thought of that too”. The author has provided multiple options for most mechanics – for example, when I wrote about Fifth Edition stunts, I mentioned some ups and down of using  using damage as a gauge of effectiveness instead of skill contests, and Douglas provides both options.

The book includes grappling for characters, monsters, spells, etc. It considers monks, thieves and other classes; it mentions using weapons when grappling and taking from your enemy. In short, Dungeon Grappling has all I could expect from a book like this. I would recommend it for anyone wanting to add more grappling to a 5e or S&W / OSR game.

RPGGeek.

“This supplement actually has me excited about grappling in my games again. I think it will make the fights easier and more exciting with better defined and more predictable outcomes. Basically, these are the grappling rules I’ve always wanted.”

The OmnusCritic. (preview review)

The OmnusCritic provides a 21-minute video review of the book, evaluating it and giving a passing grade on four criteria: aesthetics, writing, mechanics, and value.”

The Round Table with James Introcaso. (during the KS)

Less a review than a 75-minute discussion of the project, game rules for grappling, and other motivations and aesthetics animating the design. Still, if you really want to hear a passionate discussion of why grappling should be more important in fantasy RPGs . . . look no further than this conversation.

Tenkar’s Tavern. (preview review)

what I have looked at looks good. He even addresses rulesets with descending AC. I’ll give this a closer look over the coming week. Did I mention the buy in is just 5 bucks? Seriously. Currently PDF only, 5 bucks to solve my RPG grappling issues that have dogged me for the last 33 years or so? Priceless…”

Ravens’N’Pennies. (preview review)

“Dungeon Grappling is a cohesive set of rules that works across multiple iterations of Dungeons and Dragons. For those familiar with his work on GURPS Technical Grappling Doug approaches the problem in the same way, but tweaked for a different game engine – and it works surprisingly well. To tell you how easy it is I’ve not looked at the new Dungeons and Dragons, glanced at Swords and Wizardry, and gave up on Pathfinder a while back. The system he presents was intuitive, easy to understand, and provides a lot of flavor. In short, it’s a module you can just bolt on and go.”

Dungeon Fantastic.  (preview review)

“I’d urge you to check out this Kickstarter. Doug’s got a solid product here – I’ve seen it (I mean, its origin was a co-authored article and I’m the co-author) and it is good. It’s really superior to most of the clunky, ineffective, or downright risky grappling rules that come with so many games. Take a look and give it a chance.”

Follow Me, and Die! (preview review)

“This is something that has been needed in RPG’s for a long time. The Grappling Rules in AD&D are notoriously challenging to implement in play. The short and simple system introduced in Manor #8 is expanded in these pages. It gives a bare bones system and adds options and touches on how it can be used in specific systems. The basic rules will work for variations of the original game and clones, as well as later editions and variants of the original game.

The system is built on a basis of normal combat resolution. I like this approach. Use what is there instead of building a new system that doesn’t feel right. Another good example of this is what James Spahn did in White Star with vehicle combat using the same format as individual combat. I can’t think of a situation not explicitly covered in these rules.”

Original Edition Rules. (preview review)

“Dungeon Grappling is a supplement for your old-school RPG that gives a fast, simple, and robust system for moderating unarmed combat. We loved this system so much that we used it as inspiration for unarmed combat in the Guardians super hero role playing game, and has become the de facto system for all our Original Edition rules. ” The author of this review is Thomas Denmark, who wrote the Guardians superhero RPG with David Pulver.

Bat in the Attic. (preview review)

The basic idea is that there a better way of dealing with grappling. Doug developed a set of mechanics that takes the same basic mechanics of rolling to hit and inflicting damage and turns the result into something meaningful when it comes to grappling. He did this for GURPS and now he doing this for classic DnD, Pathfinder, and DnD 5e with the kickstarter.”

Shane Plays Radio. (during the Kickstarter)

This 30-minute live radio show got into a lot of things, but was a bit light on the details of the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter itself. That was my fault.

Gothridge Manor. (preview review)

“When I run a game I like to have options available for my characters…good options. The way grappling stands in most games it isn’t a good option and the players don’t consider it when in combat. With Doug’s system, combat doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Kill or be killed. In this way it allows for more roleplaying. I’ve never liked the subdual rules of most fantasy RPGs. Basically it’s a crappy way of patching a hole over something the developers couldn’t figure out. Doug has figured it out. And it’s good. And it’s useful. And it doesn’t slow down play.”

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”

It’s like a moth to flame with me. First there was GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling. That one  was my first full-length book for anyone: 35,000 words of fairly detailed subsystem that was my first attempt at taking grappling rules and put them on the same scale and mechanical basis as striking with fists or weapons. It’s where I created and put to paper the concept that one should treat wrestling with the same level of abstraction and the same mechanics as other methods of fighting.

Then I got involved a bit in a Swords and Wizardry game. This deliberate throwback to the original Dungeons and Dragons rules took me back to the red box and AD&D days, and had the same brutal and elegant simplicity that I recalled, but also was found more rarely in later games. An entire party of folks could sit down, roll up characters, and begin play in less than an hour. Maybe less than 15 minutes. West End Games’ Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game has that same feel. Few others since have managed it (Fate Core and Accelerated do a very nice job as well. They should: Leonard Balsera quoted WEG’s Star Wars as one of his primary influences when designing the game).

So when my S&W group and I got a few games under our belts, Peter Dell’Orto encouraged me to take Technical Grappling and strip it way, way down and apply it to S&W, and by extension to all of the games based on the old-school D&D rules. We took that on together, and the results appeared in Tim Shorts’ zine, part of Manor #8. Peter and I took everything that wasn’t strictly required and threw it in the dustbin. Doubly so because the old games’ monster writeups mostly did not include much in the way of statistics. You would get Hit Dice, Armor Class, and Hit Points. That was about it. Size? Strength? Yeah. Make it up. Continue reading “Dungeon Grappling – Designer’s Notes”

Gaming Ballistic, LLC is thrilled to announce that our very first product, Dungeon Grappling, is now available through DriveThruRPG.

Available in PDF and premium-Print-on-Demand, Dungeon Grappling allows you to bring grappling to editions of the most popular fantasy RPG including the OSR (with Swords and Wizardry as an explicit example), the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and Fifth Edition.

Featuring gorgeous art by Gennifer Bone, Michael Clarke, Juan Ochoa, Rick Troula, and Christian Villacis, laid out by World Wide Wrestling RPG designer and publisher Nathan D. Paoletta, Dungeon Grappling is ready to make your players fear tentacles, pincers, and giant apes as they never have before.