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”

This weekend was, in a word, good.

Dungeon Grappling

I did a triple-whammy. I finished a draft late Friday night that I thought – despite being bleary-eyed – was quite good. My readers confirmed it was the best version yet.
But the next day, one of my readers ran through a PFRPG fight with some purpose built grapple-monsters, both PCs and critters.
Whoa. Not good. The problem is that the source material – OSR D&D in various flavors – is fairly low in the HP department, and Dragon Heresy uses other stats to differentiate wounds from vigor, and control from vigor.
So converting over using HP to get to PFRPG or Fifth Edition? No. Does not work.
I real-timed it with Cole, and realized that at least for the moment, a new value for the grappling version of HP was needed. Came up with one, and that tested well. I knew it wasn’t quite right, and kept working while the playtest was going on. Found a good solution for all of the games treated, and realized (via math, backed up by 8 months of playtests) why Dragon Heresy not once had this problem.
Anyway, rewrote the drafts and got that into the hands of my layout and indexing guys. Wound up at 17,100 words, which (if we use the same layout template as Dragon Heresy) will turn into about 32 pages, which is right where I want to end up. That probably means about 16 – 20 pieces of art. We’ll see – it’s why I like to do a preliminary layout pass – to see where things need to go.
But once the fix was done, the feedback was:

Continue reading “Writing and Art for GB products”

I’ve decided that I’m going to post a weekly update on the goings on with Gaming Ballistic (the company). So here’s the first installment!


Company Administration

Making good use of the legal contracts for purchasing services that I sourced early in setting up the company. Thus far, the contract format and pay terms have found favor with folks. I’ve used it perhaps five times thus far (an editor, two contributors, and two artists) and will likely be needing to use it three more times in the near future (one contributor, two artists).

I am going to Gencon in 2017! I intend to try and be there the entire week. I will need to get some advice and secure some booth space, a banner, and ensure I have some games to distribute! I may also need some help manning the booth while I’m off playing in the Dungeon Fantasy RPG game with the SJG folks, including several folks I’ve known for a long time, even gamed with, but never met in person. That should be a fun but exhausting time. I hear hotel reservations are rough that week, too. Advice will be appreciated.

Progress still continues to be made in the “website improvement” front over at the future location of the Gaming Ballistic company site. The graphics are good, we’re playing with fonts, and the color scheme is terrible, but that’s a known and easy fix. The key next bit is to add an eCommerce feature or capability to the site, so that it can support upcoming activities. We’re also going to clean up the menu bar and make it a bit more readable. Still – good progress has been made there.

Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic LLC – Weekly update (10/14/2016)”

A quick Dragon Heresy update.

Things are moving along, and monsters are being written. I’m super-excited about my lizardfolk writeup, and the elementals and giants are pretty fun too. Actually, the undead are kinda awesome. Anyway, having a specific setting to tie monsters into is a great creative aid.

In other news, I got some feedback on the magnitude of the project which has . . . given me pause isn’t exactly right, but it’s not wrong either. “Hey, here’s a new company, doing a SRD5.1 project that is probably 700-750 pages in two volumes” is a big ask.

So I’m going to try something different. I’m going to rip out the grappling rules from the Dragon Heresy manuscript, plus +Peter V. Dell’Orto and my “Grappling Old School” rules from Manor #8 (which also appeared in Guardians, an OSR Superhero game), and polish them up for a very small Kickstarter. 

I have many, many more words written about grappling than I can use. I have months of playtest of the system, plus all the GURPS stuff where folks have played Technical Grappling. 

I’ll get to trial my layout, give my artists (one under contract, three pending) some early paying work, my indexer and I will figure out a process there, and I’ll get to run myself through the Kickstarter process from start to finish.

Total ask? Likely less than $1,000 . . . maybe much less. 

I’m reaching out to some other authors about some add-ons for extras (all will be PDFs – this is designed to be an “instant gratification” Kickstarter unless it smashes stretch goals for “MOAR ART! COLOR ART! COOL COVER!” or whatnot, in which case you get the B/W version RTFN, and a color version when it’s done.

I will also have a “so . . . you want to help fund Dragon Heresy” set of . . . call them “elite tiers.” I’ve got ideas for this that have to do with having your face and image appear as major historical characters in the art in the DH books. Still cooking on that idea, but I’d commission art to mutually satisfactory specs (real or idealized version of you? What class? pose? that sort of thing) that fit within the scope of art direction for the book. You’d get (minimum) a signed copy of the piece. At best, it reduces what I need to fund for the DH book, as all the art can be re-used.

Anyway, I anticipate having the manuscript done by this weekend or middle of next week. Prelim layout using the DH format (simplified, I think) and density the following weekend. Then I’ll reach out to my artists and we get to see how well we all work together. 

I’m excited about this. It’s a much lower risk project than The Big One, and if successful, the OSR and SRD5.1 crowd will finally have grappling rules that don’t suck. :-)