Hard to kill

One of the tricks about heavy, thick armor is that it’s hard to put a sword through. Or a spear, arrow, or much of anything. A pollaxe ought to do it.

This is reasonably well represented in dungeon gaming through the abstraction of Armor Class, in that it is more difficult for a character to to land an effective hit on a foe in thick armor.

Easy to Grab

On the other hand, many of the old fighting manuals focused on grappling foes in heavy armor. That’s because being encased in mail or 2 to 4 millimeters of forged steel doesn’t make you harder to grab (though it may make you harder to lift).

Dungeon Grappling enables this explicitly, adding a nuance to fights in your games that might not be present today.

Consider a guy with DEX 18, which is good for anywhere from a +1 to a +4 bonus depending on edition. Let’s go with the +4. In recent editions, wearing heavy armor caps that – in fact, no bonus at all is provided, but in plate armor you are AC 18.

The Grapple DC for this character, with the rules presented in the book? Grapple DC 10.

Coup de Grace

So now, the go-to method for dealing with heavily-armored knights is probably wrestling them to the ground so you can stick a dagger in a vulnerable spot.

Kinda like this:

Dungeon Grappling. For all your can-opening needs!


A fantastic first day on my Kickstarter for Dungeon Grappling. Nearly 70% of the way to funding on Day 1, with 27 days to go. Thank you to all those that have shown such generosity thus far.

But it’s not over until it’s over, and once we hit the “funded” level, that’s only about 1/3 of the way to getting the best book possible, with full-color art, 25% MORE art, and higher pay rates to the artists.

So if you’ve pledged already – thank you! Please continue, though, to reshare and spread the word. And if you haven’t pledged, please consider it, or help inform fellow gamers that the project is out there.

Live to Grapple. Grapple to Live. Dungeon Grappling.



The Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter is now live

What is it?

First and foremost, this book contains rules based on Open Gaming Licence content from several editions of the industry’s most popular RPG to make grappling fun, exciting, and easy to play.dungeon-grappling-cover-mockup-2

It contains rules and examples from three different flavors of the most popular fantasy RPG – from S&W, PFRPG, and Fifth Edition – in order to finally give grappling its due as a method of combat.

It’s a short supplement – right now it clock in at about 40 pages

Don’t take this short blurb as entire story, though – go read the pitch.

How Risky is This?

Given the manuscript is done, the layout is well advanced, the indexing is in the process of being entered into layout . . . the only thing that is not done is the art.layout-example-1

And that’s what the Kickstarter is for.

I’ll be spreading the 16 (or 20, if stretch goals are hit) pieces through four artists, so each one will be making 4-5 pieces each. The art direction will start as soon as the project funds at the basic level, so delivering on or ahead of schedule should be achievable unless something truly unforeseeable happens.

Please help me out

This is Gaming Ballistic’s first product, deliberately small to get experience with the process and show people that I’ve got the project management chops to handle it and deliver on time.

That being said – this is the real deal. I’m excited about this product and I think it’s at least as good as any such rules that have been published to date, and better than most. I’ve been using them with great success in my trial campaigns since February for Dragon Heresy, and the “control point” methodology formed the core of GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling, which Peter Dell’Orto uses to great effect in his Felltower Campaign, which you can read about over on Dungeon Fantastic.

So I’d very much appreciate your support. And I’d really appreciate your sharing it everywhere that you can, because folks can’t buy it if they don’t know it’s there.


With no small amount of gratitude to

  • The fine folks at CyberLink for making PowerDirector 15 just that easy to learn and use
  • Alex Raymond for gifting me with the use of the most excellent The Renegade Song score
  • Christopher Rice for pointing me toward Alex, his blitzkrieg indexing, and detail-oriented editing pass
  • Emily Smirle for an awful lot of computer cycles used to make the 3D rendered background and project image
  • Phil Reed and Hunter Shelbourne for showing me how a Kickstarter needs to be run via the DFRPG, and also proving that there’s money to be had for good work
  • Nathan Paoletta for doing layout to schedule, so I could include samples of the actual product in the Kickstarter pitch
  • My playtest team, including Peter, Luke, Patrick, Brian, Fred, Cole, and others for doing a fine, fast pivot from Dragon Heresy to make this product a reality
  • David Pulver and Alexander Macris for encouraging me to run down this pathway
  • KC for telling me I should absolutely not do it, which made me think very hard about my plans; this product and the next one will be better for it
  • Ken Hite for outstanding feedback on the Kickstarter prep package
  • And last and greatest, my wife, who put up with my writing and operated the camera for the video shoot

the Kickstarter will go live tomorrow, on schedule.

With luck, and no small degree of planning, “on schedule” will be the watchword here.

What am I looking for?

  • $1,500 gets the basic PDF with 16 piece of black and white art
  • [Stretch A] $2,000 gets an eBook format
  • [Stretch B] $4,000 gets 20 pieces of full-color art
  • [Stretch C] $5,000 gets a full-color custom cover

If we smash the stretch goals, I will likely cast a greedy eye on a hardcopy, in 6×9 or A5 format instead of 8.5×11, laid out in a single column instead of two. That would be large enough to perfect bind rather than saddle stitch.

Let’s do this.



I brought an artist on board to do some 3D renders for the upcoming Kickstarter. More on that below.

If all goes well, I will finish up the video tonight or tomorrow, which puts me in a position to launch on Monday, which would be “all goes to plan.”

Daniel also was a whiz this last week and we installed and activated WooCommerce, so when I have products to offer, I can take PayPal and credit cards. I’m also capable of accepting Stripe, but I’m pausing on that one for now.

So, I’m about to try and launch a product, I can collect revenue, and I think the site looks good.

I obtained 10 ISBNs and 6 bar-codes, so I can list and sell my first few products in various formats in many places.

Dungeon Grappling and Dragon Heresy

One quick note on this. If you’ve been following me for a bit, you’ll know that most of my efforts for a long time were bent on trying to bring my full RPG Dragon Heresy to reality. This is still happening. But along the way, I got a good piece of advice, mixed in with some pretty negative advice. Which was that Dragon Heresy, being two full-size, hardcover books with full-color art that will probably take $25K just to block and tackle, another $25K for the 350-400 pieces of art I’d need, and then yet another $20K to print physical books . . . well, having my first Kickstarter for my first product being on the order of $80,000 is a bridge too far.

I looked at Dragon Heresy, and decided that if I were to get some experience, build some credibility as to being able to produce and deliver a product of quality, I’d need to start smaller.

My choices seemed to be two-fold. I could try and blow out my version of Alexander Macris’ domain rules that I’d modified for SRD5.1 and Dragon Heresy, or I could take the grappling system that started in Manor #8, was revised and expanded and playtested over the course of months, and bring that to market with both OSR (I use Swords and Wizardry as an example), the PFRPG, and Fifth edition all as examples within the text.

I love Alex’s work, but despite it being OGL and therefore technically allowable for me to build it, well, it seemed that would be the sort of thing Alex and Autarch would want to do himself, or at least in collaboration. The grappling system is my own from start to finish, and has proved itself to be a winner in several systems (including GURPS).

The system that will appear in print is simpler than the GURPS one, of course, but it still manages to be dramatic, fast, and fills a gap in how characters and monsters fight that has existed pretty much forever. Most creatures that are trying to kill you because they are hungry are grapplers, not strikers, and yet my experience with the games is that the worst an animal does is Claw/Claw/Bite – and that really should be claw-and-knock-prone, claw-to-grapple, bite-to-strangle.

Well, now you’ll be able to do it.

The ask is a LOT less – over 15x lower than for Dragon Heresy. I’ve already learned a ton about making video (start early)putting together the Kickstarter pitch with the extremely limited graphical and editing tools that the Kickstarter backend gives you, and that my biggest worry right now is that my marketing channels are underdeveloped.

That’s all stuff you want to find out on a $5,000 “this is my upper-end stretch goal” project, not a “I need $80K to get it done” project.

And that is why, after roughly nine months of nothing but “Dragon Heresy” and “Heretical DnD,” you’re suddenly hearing a lot about grappling. That book went from “a collection of all my rules and blog posts” to 17,500 words of relatively polished prose very quickly. About five weeks from my first note to a well-known Kickstarter expert to launching the new product. And that is because all the ideas were there, and just needed to be put through the purifier to get to the basics.

All that said: I hope you guys like it, and I hope you’ll support it. I’ve got some great add-ons for you too, especially if you’re an OSR fan. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic, LLC – Update for 11/5”

grappling-ks-teaserJust for fun, I asked my usual printer of choice for a quote for a short book, in 6×9 format. Softcover, 12-point matte cover. 100# matte paper on the inside. 56 pages.

What does that mean? Well, if my current layout of Grappling Heresy runs to about 520 words per page, it will come in in letter format at approximately 34 pages, plus end sheets.

In a 6×9 format, density would fall to about 300 words per page, pushing it to 58 pages. Layout tricks can be employed to boost average words per page to 312, which will give pricing advantages for offset printing.

Anyway, I got quotes. And compared them to PrintNinja and DTRPG.

 Quantity   Thomson-Shore   Print Ninja   DTRPG
            250  $                   13.28  $           6.36  $       5.08
            500  $                     7.18  $           3.40  $       5.08
         1,000  $                     4.12  $           1.86  $       5.08
         1,500  $                     3.10  $           1.39  $       5.08


Some high-level observations.

Thomson-Shore will deliver the entire thing from their office in Detroit in 3-4 weeks. PrintNinja prints in China (thus the cost break), and I’ve heard tell that they will also print in 3-4 weeks, but you are a bit at the mercy of shipping times. 6-12 weeks not being crazy. So if you can wait – or more importantly, your customers/backers can wait – up to 4 months for a print copy, you can get books very, very inexpensively.

But check out DTRPG. For this size book, in quantities of 250-300 copies, it’s probably just better to go through DTRPG, or even consider an at-cost coupon for it. You get good pricing, local shipping, and no hassles.

For T-S, you’re paying for really good help and fast delivery. For PrintNinja, the prices are about 45% of Thomson-Shore, but there is no small amount of uncertainty over delivery time. It’s also easy to imagine that for a book like this, you could pay rather ridiculous shipping fees to the UK/EU or AUS/NZ to the tune of 10x or more the cost of the book.

Anyway, my plans do not include a print run for Grappling Heresy . . . though that could change if I get enough backers and enough interest. Those DTRPG prices are pretty attractive, and I’d have a hard time justifying fulfillment other than POD-coupon for this kind of book. I suppose there could be a stretch goal for the format. Would be $1,000-1500 higher than the current maximum funding level, I suspect. Another bunch of money for layout and the cover. The art could probably be re-scaled and re-used. Indexing would probably re-flow naturally, but pagination would be different. Would need a new ISBN and bar code.


Really, this is what happens when someone like me needs a cover mockup for a Kickstarter pitch. And why you hire real artists for such things.


This is clearly missing some things. I’ve got Emily Smirle working up a 3D render image for the front cover. I obviously need an ISBN. I think I need a bit more information about the product on the front, perhaps. And once Nathan gets finished with the preliminary layout, I’m sure fonts and spacing and styling could change. The basic template is from RPGNow, part of the Codex by Sade. Will I keep it? Hopefully not – that’s what Stretch Goals are for. But there’s no doubt what the book is about, so it’s a good start.

I purchased – a bit impulsively – very many templates from RPGNow as bundles. So I have options. But better to get something out there and change it for the better than twiddle.


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”