I had a brainstorm last night, and realized that (no surprise) I was over-thinking the conversion of Lost Hall of Tyr to Swords and Wizardry.

As a result, I will be including conversion notes for S&W players in the release of the game. No stretch goal required, just added utility.

This will definitely take two forms:

  1. A short monster stat block will provided as a boxed text in what used to be white space in the Bestiary with the simplified stats required to run the creature with the S&W rules.
  2. Guidance is provided on how to finesse skill tests from 5e into attribute rolls for OSR games . . . assuming that the GM doesn’t just say “player skill!” and wave that all away.

How to incorporate the S&W dungeon grappling concepts is a bit of a work in progress. I may provide a one-page PDF handout for that, since it’s simpler than the 5e version.

So, if the OSR is your thing, you have more reason to back the project or perhaps even increase your pledge!

 

We’re in the last weekend of the Lost Hall of Tyr Kickstarter!

The project has funded and the stretch goals have been consolidated and pulled in.

The project was reviewed a few more times, with favorable comments: Three Good Reviews.

And Roland Warzecha completed his full-page mural that will lead in the two-page grappling quick-start. If you like bad-ass female vikings beheading hobgoblins (with Roland’s wife and Roland used as figure models for the warrior and hobgoblins, respectively!) this is worth checking out.

I’d like to draw particular attention to the Stythja (“Patron”) levels. For your $200 pledge (more for Roland’s images) you and I will work out a character suitable for the adventure using a preview of the Dragon Heresy RPG rules (the setting of which informs and drives this adventure as background), and one of the artists will provide an illustration of your character. The illustrated characters will be published in a (free to backers) book of pre-gens, and I assure you . . . they’ll appear again one day!

In any case, this is a great side-quest (says others, not me) that will provide 4-8 hours of play and can be easily transported into other settings or even systems (a friend of mine who was given a preview copy even converted it for GURPS).

The project gets very cool as we hit stretch goals. OSR conversions, more art, and if we somehow hit 375 print copies, a true offset print run.

Please throw in!

Howdy! I’m back from possibly the worst travel itinerary I’ve had inflicted on me in my 17 years working at my company. From Thailand to Minneapolis, I sat in hotel rooms or airport layovers for 36 hours, while actually moving from place to place in cars and airplanes for perhaps 24 hours. I am pretty much a wastoid right now, but soldier on anyway.

In any case, we’re entering the last six days of the Kickstarter. I was greeted by three reviews or pieces of commentary on my return, and all paint a favorable picture of Lost Hall of Tyr. I’ll present them in the order I read them, and quote them in full where appropriate.

Actual Play Report

The best feedback is “I played the game and it worked for me.” That’s the summary of this report by Anders:

Lost Hall of Tyr” is Douglas Cole’s adventure for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, made to showcase his Dungeon Grappling rules. It is set in Torengar, a country heavily inspired by the Old Norse and the goal is to regain lost books supposedly penned by one-handed Tyr, god of war, law and sacrifice.

I ran the adventure with seven 5th-level characters (which is probably more than it is recommended for) and it took about four hours to run. Cole has done a good job of capturing the flavor of Norse mythology and blending it with the Dungeons and Dragons feel. The adventure contains plenty of both fighting and non-fighting challenges. We had a lot of fun with the game, although I’m a little worried about how the final challenge would go with a less powerful party. You might have to adjust for that.

The adventure comes complete with a map of northwest Torengar and encounter maps for all the challenges that require them. It is excellent quality and I would recommend anyone interested in 5th edition to pick it up and play, and (obviously) to back the Kickstarter.”

I should note that his players didn’t engage with the grappling rules at all, which was good proof for me that in fact you can just run it straight. They went full hack-and-slash through the entire thing.

I will put in some advice about the final encounter, though, into the section on Alternatives for that fight. There are some things that aren’t entirely obvious about the big fight at the end that make it easier, and a few switches that can be thrown if the party is truly understrength.

Eric Diaz (Methods and Madness)

First impressions on +Douglas Cole’s Lost Hall of Tyr, based on the 52-page, yer unfinished, PDF:  

It seems like a very genuine exploration of Norse culture and conditions. It uses not only norse gods, it seems, but norse religion, with beliefs, rituals, folklore, etc.

It has detailed (and very reasonable) rules on cold, starvation, dehydration,e etc.  

The adventure itself if more focused on overland travel than the actual Hall. It is a very straightforward adventure, with branching paths, multiple ways to solve each encounter, and so on.  

The art I’ve seen so far is very good to – above average IMO. It also contains rules for Dungeon Grappling, Douglas’ last supplement – which I reviewed and enjoyed quite a lot. The PDF is $5 with this kickstart and I would DEFINITELY recommend getting it too.

If you want a realistic, norse-themed adventure, with support for overland travel, check this one out.

Justin Folkerts (Kickstarter Reviews)

Lost Hall of Tyr: a 5e Adventure

So this one, I’m conflicted about. not about the project – looks awesome. not what I would purchase because I don’t tend to get adventures unless they are HUGE and mega (wink wink).  

But, D&D has this dungeon masters Guild http://www.dmsguild.com/ which is EXACTLY suited for this sort of project, and a location that is desperate for high quality products like this one obviously appears to be.

Ideally, and with synergy, a KS project like this would follow the below arc:  

  • Stage 1: kickstart the project to fund it, get it built to the quality standards you are looking for. this pays for the upfront costs of art and cartography and editing etc.  
  • stage 2: kickstarter funders get the opportunity to purchase a dead tree version or some other exclusive as a reward for funding this project  
  • Stage 3: once published and released to the funders, IMMEDIATELY put this project for sale on dms guild for general release. make it PDF only, or because dm’s guild it run by drivethru, have a POD option.  
  • stage 4: help grow the dm community via releasing top notch content.

Good luck to this project. its already funded and not heading into stretch goal territory. I know that many game companies started out this way. Frog God games, Kobold press, Goodman, etc, but honestly, I’d like to see the tools that already exist be used for both amateur and professional products to help raise all ships. just my $0.02

Commentary

Anders’ report (I know him from the GURPS boards) is of the most interest to prospective backers and players, because it answers concretely (if anecdotally) a few things:

  • It took four hours to play
  • It was playable in “hack and slash” mode
  • It played well enough that it didn’t engender a list of things that needed horrible fixin’
  • The scenario will prove challenging to overstrength parties, and I might need to rescope the bottom end of things a bit.

In truth, the GenCon experience was done with six or seven 4th level characters, and it wasn’t a cake-walk. I’ll probably recenter this one a bit.

Eric and Anders (who is Swedish, I believe) both said nice things about fidelity to Norse mythology, which makes me happy.

Justin brings up some questions about why not the DM’s guild that bear answering, and it can be summarized in two lines from this page.

The two in question are “publish my original campaign using 5th Edition rules,” and “print and sell my 5th Edition…product on my own.” Both of which are answered “no.”

I’m not sure if it’s always been there or was a clarification, but I used to think if you published on the DM’s Guild they had claim on your IP. This has been addressed formally:

Does Wizards own any unique IP that I create in my DMs Guild publications?

Wizards does not own any of the unique IP that you create in your publications. Wizards does own the IP that they contribute, plus the DMs Guild agreement will grant Wizards and other DMs Guild authors a license to use your IP. That said, if your work merits incorporation into canon, Wizards will contact you about purchasing your IP outright.

Ultimately, this adventure and the Dungeon Grappling product are part of a creative universe that encompasses my “Etera” Norse-inspired campaign world. I definitely want to print and sell it on my own, and should this Kickstarter suddenly sprint to the finish and get 375 print backers, getting a high-quality offset print run of this or future books is something I very much wish to do.

Anyway: the news is good, so spread the word!

Mid-Campaign Ulcers and Status

Of the book. Not the ulcers.

I won’t kid you guys – seeing the Lost Hall of Tyr pledge total move up and down as it has has not been good for my stomach lining. As I mentioned in the comments, all of the withdrawals to date have been legit life reasons, but it’s certainly painful to watch.

We’re still funded, though, and the book is progressing well. I just sent Todd a pretty thorough edit of the manuscript as a last look before we really start assembling the thing, corrected a bunch of typos, and made a few edits for clarity of writing.

I have received the promised art that I commissioned from the team in four of the five cases: the cover, Roland’s piece, and two of the other pieces. The last one is on schedule. All the maps are done. I’m in the process of commissioning the remaining art assets for the basic book. Things are on track.

Stretch Goal Adjustment

I took a hard look at what the goals of the campaign were, and I’ve made some adjustments.

No adjustments have been made to reward levels; if you’ve pledged something, you’ll get what was promised.

So what changed:

  • I have decided to fulfill all physical product through a high-quality POD company, PubGraphics. I was very impressed with their work on Dungeon Grappling, so the books that come out of this Kickstarter, and any future orders through my website, will come from them. The product will, of course be available through DriveThruRPG as well.
  • I have merged the “More Art” and “S&W Conversion” stretch goals, which will both happen at $6,000.
  • Additionally, I have spoken to Alex Macris of Autarch Publishing, and I will also commit to an Adventurer Conqueror King System conversion of Lost Hall. That one might take some reframing, but he has agreed to give me some advice there.
  • This allowed pulling in the “more art from Roland” levels to $8,000 and $11,000 respectively

Both of the conversions would be delivered when the print books have been promised: April of 2018 (or before).

What about Delivery? Later?

No.

My initial scheduling was done assuming we hit all the stretch goals and I was commissioning all the art that might be needed. So the changes above don’t impact anything.

The Swords and Wizardry conversion pull-in was the result of doing a hard look at what was required to do it, and it’s less work than I had planned.

Finally, ACKS is awesome, and I have wanted to do a Dungeon Grappling tuning of ACKS for a bit; it’s not that different than Swords and Wizardry at the core, and the proficiency-based capability system is similar to the various skill and feat systems in 5e. So it’s a fairly easy conversion. I will discuss with Alex the right way to execute this in terms of his product line, and get working fast.

So I have confidence I can execute this.

Stythja Tiers

A bit more about those tiers.

As part of the reward level, each backer at this level will work with me to create a character for the scenario. You will also receive a preview copy of the Dragon Heresy races and classes chapters, from which the Etera setting is drawn.

We’ll work up a character together, then I’ll make art notes, share them with the backer for review, make any tweaks required, and then fire off the art notes to the artist whose reward level you’ve chosen. Those characters will then appear in a separate PDF file that will be distributed along with the physical rewards and conversion material. Kind of “pre-gens” for the scenario.

Onward to the Finish

We’re headed into the last week of the campaign. Thus far, we’ve seen two reviews of the product:

Fantastical Beckelhimer and Follow Me and Die! both liked it. They also saw the ease of conversion to other material and appreciated the setting details as well as the value the Dungeon Grappling system brings to the table.

I’ve also been on four podcasts to talk about the work:

  • Table Top Babble where the topic was also Kickstarter advice
  • Geek Gab Game Night where we talked a lot about adventure design
  • Delve Podcast which focused pretty hard on the Lost Hall details
  • Shane Plays (forthcoming) about 10 minutes on the adventure

These are good places to point folks for more details about the game. There is, of course, also my blog, which has a category for Lost Hall.

So, with that . . . I hope that folks continue to get energized about Lost Hall of Tyr, and invite others to do so. To the finish line!

The post below is duplicated from Roland Warzecha’s Patreon page, which everyone should visit and support. If you are a fan of historical swordsmanship, you definitely owe yourself a visit his way.

Here is the completed illustration which I did for a role-play adventure written by Dougas Cole, that is currently campaigning on kickstarter, to attract as many backers as possible. (One of the stretch goals will be more art work such as this!)

The adventure is apparently set in a fantasy world, partially drawing on Norse mythology and culture. In the background, you can see a page from the Icelandic Codex Regius (the King’s Book) which is the oldest written source for the Poetic Edda. The typographic elements are verses from the Hávamál which is included in the Codex Regius. Naturally, I thought it appropriate to depict Viking arms and armour with the image’s leading character. Doug had suggested a female warrior, and so I created this heroine, which I named Sólveig Ravnsdóttir. Her first name can be interpreted in a number of ways, e.g. as path of the sun, mistress of the hall, power of the house. Her last name means Raven’s daughter.

Sólveig wears lamellar armour of oriental origin. Remains of this kind of protection have been found in the Swedish Viking settlement of Birka. It consist of small plates, so-called lamellae which are laced to form individual belts. These belts are laced more loosely to each other in such a fashion that they overlap and can move much like a telescope, assisting hinging motions of the wearer’s torso.

Her head is protected by a helmet with ”spectacles“ based on a Norwegian find from Gjermundbu, the only original Viking helmet ever to be discovered.

The account of an Arab chronicler who had met Eastern Vikings described them as being tattooed. Accordingly, I decided to show Sólveig being tatted in ornaments of the so-called Urnes style which became popular in the late Viking Age. Her sword with bronze fittings is of the typical late spate type that was widespread in Scandinavia and Russia. Its scabbard is mounted with an eastern bronze scabbard chape in the shape of a raven. Her arms are adorned with various bracelets.

The bottom hem of her wide tunic is tucked up above her thighs to allow for freedom of movement, as seen with a sword-fighter in the 9th century Utrecht Psalter, and some men wading through water on the late 11th century Bayeux Tapestry.

She has just deflected a spear thrust with her flat round shield, then turned the shield pushing forward its edge to keep the sear at bay and pin her opponent, at the same time striking a death blow.

Her adversaries are Hobgoblins which carry both bucklers as well as large Celtic style shields. They are armed with swords modeled on both Viking Age ones as well as late medieval ranges messer. One also brandishes a bearded axe. The helmets are so-called kettle hats based on late 14th and 15th century models. All Goblin arms are made from bronze, because they cannot stand steel, as Douglas explained to me.

Obviously, they have a weak spot for the same beard styles that I like myself, and it appears to be a custom with this tribe to put on war paint made from some local berries.

I have also picked kind of a motto for Sólveig which is based on a line from the collection of Hávamál verses that Douglas had provided me with: “Never slain shall she bow before sword.”See it somewhat concealed in the image above.

If you like this art work, keep an eye on the stretch goals suggested by Douglas for his kickstarter project.

A 300 dpi version of this image is available as a download for $7+ patrons.

What’s next? The up-coming weapon documentation and photo set will feature a late 14th/early 15th century type XIV sword from Switzerland which will be made available for $25+ patrons, with the full scale drawing to follow for my $35+ patrons.

New Reward Level – Dimicator Stythja

As you can see, the detail work in Roland’s piece is amazing. If you want to have your character illustrated by him, in this style . . . now you can!

I have introduced another reward level: the top-tier Dimicator Stythja. At this level, for $750 you will get a quarter-page illustration in the same style as the image featured above . . . or for a kingly sum of $2,000, a full page.

As with all of the Stythja (Patron) levels, the first task is to create a level 3-6 character that will either come from the SRD, or the Dragon Heresy preview chapter that I will send to the patron backer. Once the character is created, the patron backer will provide reference images, and I will provide art direction to Roland based on the character, the images, and our conversations.

I’m sure the result will be quite inspiring!

Lost Hall has Funded!

Lost Hall of Tyr has funded! We passed the basic goal about 8 days in, so the project will definitely happen.

This is excellent news for Gaming Ballistic, of course – who doesn’t want their projects to succeed? – but it’s only a first step. Continue reading “Kickstarter Update Summary – Lost Hall of Tyr”

Roland just shared a sample of the art he’s providing for the Dungeon Grappling quick-start chapter for Lost Hall of Tyr.

If the hobgoblin looks familiar to you, there’s a reason. The final version has more details of what “grappling with weapons” can mean – she’s stepping on the hob’s spear to pin it in place, as well as using her own shield to trap his left arm.

Because it’s Roland, all of the equipment and stances are historical and accurate, modeled off of real pieces. The detail is phenomenal.

I simply cannot wait to see the entire full-page piece.

If we hit the bit stretch goals at the top end, there will be more of this type of illustration in the book!

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t extra-point you to Roland’s Patreon, plus his awesome collection of informative YouTube videos on historical fighting and weapons.

I was on the Geek Gab Game Night podcast just a few moments ago. Nearly two hours on adventure design and other topics – we didn’t hold ourselves tightly to a particular theme. As always, it was a hoot interacting with my gracious hosts, and it definitely plays out as a conversation rather than a lecture!

Give a listen, and of course, support Lost Hall of Tyr!

Greetings from Thailand!

The big news is that, of course, Lost Hall of Tyr passed the  basic funding goal! Now it’s all about stretch goals.

Had a great night’s sleep last night, which if you’re familiar with the vagaries of international air travel, is from from a guarantee.

In addition to passing the basic funding goal (woo hoo!), I’ve got some updates on art progress

John B has reported he’s on schedule for delivery before the end of the Kickstarter for his piece, as has Roland W. That’s all of the pre-commissioned art thus far, but since the campaign has met it funding goal, I can look into starting up the remaining pieces. As things proceed, I will see how we are doing and look carefully at how much additional art the campaign can afford.

I also got to sit down over email with Todd, and I asked him to mock up the real cover, rather than what I did in five minutes with Photoshop’s Magic Wand tool. I suggested we incorporate “the sword” I use for the banners (I really like it) into the cover design, and he overachieved. I wasn’t sure how I’d have done it, but what he actually did really made me happy.

What? Stop talking and show? OK!

Front Cover
Front Cover

 

Back Cover and Teaser Text
Back Cover and Teaser Text

Feedback Wanted

One thing that backers of my prior Kickstarter – Dungeon Grappling – will tell you is that I’m pretty good about taking and acting on feedback from my contributors. You guys are sponsoring the work, after all, so it makes good sense to listen where possible.

So . . . if you think that the wording of the cover, or something about placement could be improved . . . make the suggestion! Worst case is a polite no, and best case for all is “that’s a fantastic idea!”

As always, please spread the word about the project where you can. I’m going on several podcasts – Geek Gab and the Delve Podcast – to talk about the project, and would love to do more.

Congratulations and Thanks!

We made funding at the basic level last night, sneaking over the wire while I was travelling between Minnesota and Thailand on business. I’m currently a bit bleary-eyed, but the trip was as smooth and fast as one could ask for. Four hours to Seattle, 12 hours to Korea, and five hours to Thailand. Then an overnight stay at the hotel at the airport, then three hours drive to Korat (Nakhon Rhatchasima) where our plant is located.

But a big thank you to the backers who have taken us this far.

Miles to go before I sleep

The next goal is important – enough backers and money to guarantee that we can get the thing done and printed not through the usual suspects. Right now, though, we’re really only talking about 50 copies of the print version, which might be a low enough number that I procure it through a third party anyway. We shall see!

The big stuff happens between $5000 to $8000, with more art and the Swords and Wizardry full conversion next on deck. Following that, we get into icing on the cake: inside cover art and other gritty/realistic illustrations by Roland Warzecha

The Days Ahead

I’m looking to go on a few podcasts in the near future to pitch the adventure and talk grappling monsters. I will also be doing a bit of a featurette on each of the artists that are working the project, highlighting their styles and showing the kind of thing that can happen for the custom commission tiers.

Once Again: Thanks!

But that’s all in the future. I’ll work on delivering you the best book I can. The more you guys talk it up, the better. Again: the invite for “if you will run or review it, I’ll get you a prelim copy” so long as you write up up before the campaign ends!