I’ll start with the obvious: content has been thin on the ground here for a while in terms of stuff that’s not just updates to my production process/crowdfunding efforts. This one won’t be much different, but it’s a bit of a download on what’s going on.

A Bit of Chaos

First thing, the last few months – maybe since April – have been very hectic. My family decided to move. Not far, still in MN, but we started the process. Found a house we liked. Bought it. And moved.

But we still hadn’t sold the old place yet. We’d put a lot of work into it, so we figured it would sell quickly. That didn’t happen. In fact, it still hasn’t happened. So things have been tight around here, and there’s been a lot of time and angst spent on the process. This past week, a buyer’s financing fell through, and so what we thought was a done deal was not. Exhausting, mentally.

The disassembly of my workshop also meant I stopped crafting for a while. That meant shields and promised goods for the Citadel at Nordvorn kickstarter were on the “to-do” list until my shop got set up again.

I also re-started training in Hwa Rang Do, so to spend more time with my wife, who’s an instructor. So my schedule changed quite a bit; again with less time.

This isn’t going to end with “so bad things for Gaming Ballistic, boo hoo.” It just has taken a bit to recover.

All the shields and swords are now done. My workshop is set up. Nordvorn is completely delivered, the physical copies from Four Perilous Journeys are due to arrive at Studio 2 before mid-November. And the Nordlond Sagas campaign . . . well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

GURPSDay

The first thing GB was known for, other than all the gun stuff and occasional forays into grappling rules, was GURPSDay. Before I got heavily into publishing, that was every week, like clockwork.

Now, with my schedule on Thursday being “get kids up for school early, and then get back from martial arts late,” it’s become irregular. I mostly get one out weekly, but not always. The 100 blogs (or so) that are part of the list are a bit more irregular too, and readership seems to have fallen off a bit. The giant spike in stats that I used to get isn’t nearly as impressive as it was.

I’ll still do it, but it needs a shot in the arm somehow.

Crowdfunding

Not any campaign in particular, but in general. Phil Reed has been (correctly) lamenting the state of the gaming industry for some time now. Too many projects, with too short a shelf life in folks’ minds. The usual timetable for how Kickstarter was “supposed” to work was

  • A roughly 30-day campaign, ideally suited to cover five weekends, so that there are at least two, maybe three, pay periods in there
  • Two weeks of “waiting for all the money”
  • Ten to 14 days for the primary Backerkit survey, which is there because one usually doesn’t know what shipping will look like until the thing is done

So that’s two full months of administrative time just getting the orders, sweating marketing, and hoping that folks will be using the power of social media networking to talk up your stuff. That doesn’t usually happen for the big guys, much less me.

Even if you’re completely on the ball and the entire project is done when Backerkit closes, the best you can usually do is send the PDFs out that day. You still have these steps to take, if you intend to go to print, which I like to do.

  • Have your backers check the PDFs for errors. They usually find some. That’s a nice 2 weeks minimum.
  • Assemble the final files, spool them out, and wait for art to be done. Again, that could be basically one day, could be more.
  • Send them to print. That’s a month. There’s a lot of surprisingly inactive time here.
  • Then move them around the world. I do a thing where my international books go to the UK, and ship out. That’s a week from Latvia to the UK, and then 1-6 weeks to arrive, depending on the quality of the post. For the USA, it’s supposed to be about a month more, but in reality seems to take more like six weeks, because things are always delayed. Always. Then it’s 2 more weeks for Media Mail to deliver stuff.

That’s another 14 weeks – three full months – before all stuff is in hand. Once the books go to print, though, the “I have so much stuff to do on Project X” period is really over. Starting a new project is not crazy at this point, but you will be paying lots of money for print, ship, and fulfillment during this period. So while the workload is lower, the financial drain is maximum. The biggest individual checks one writes are for printing and shipping. The total project cost is higher for art, but that’s almost always spent on many artists.

Best case, you can do a project every 2.5 months; worst case if you wait for everyone to get their stuff before you start the next one? Two projects a year.

I can’t really turn Gaming Ballistic into a self-sustaining main job at two projects a year. Even five per year isn’t awesome unless each of those gets roughly 2.5-5x as large as they are now. Doing MORE requires something else. I can parallel process more books at once than Kickstarter will allow me to do, since my project management skills are up to the task.

What to do? Well, I’ve got two options here.

One is to explore alternate options. GameOnTabletop is intriguing. One thing is that all the add-ons and whatnot are available right away, in addition to pledging. You know exactly what folks are getting, they’re just set up as items. So the “add a new thing in the middle” that happened with both Four Perilous Journeys and Nordlond Sagas is much easier to handle. I’m getting a better feel for shipping, too. I mean, it still sucks, and costs too much, but I can probably guess what it’ll be in advance of the projects these days, since I now can calculate the weight of books easily due to experience in actually getting them. So it’s a bit of a one-stop shop for that. Cards are charged right away, too, and the fees are lower. Cash flow should be superior to Kickstarter, and you need money to pay writers and artists right away when the work has already begun.

The other possibility is to bring it all in house. There’s a crowdfunding app on WooCommerce. No rules but the ones I make for myself. If I have an idea, I can put it on there and say “pre-order it, and it gets made if we hit the goal.” This provides a powerful market tool, in that if I’ve got several books I want to make, the backers will vote with their dollars on which ones they like, and which ones they don’t. It means I can have rolling funding drives, too. It’s sort of the bastard child of Kickstarter and Patreon. All the IT burden falls on me, but there are real advantages to this method. I may try it out with a single small project to work the bugs out.

Even so, the actual process of crowdfunding is a bit of a slog, since you’re bound to the rules of the other systems you use (KS, Backerkit, GameOnTabletop), and they take their cut. It may only be 5%, but that’s 5% that doesn’t go into developing new cool stuff. A few thousand bucks goes a long way at my scale.

Nordlond Sagas

Still working away at this. The block-and-tackle of Kickstarter and Backerkit should be done. The two small books – Nordlondr Folk and Hand of Asgard – are looking really good. Layout is finished, art is underway. Now it’s time to turn the effort to full-on editing the adventures, which is a big job. Writing tight, technical, entertaining prose takes work, and so the authors and I are in constant contact helping that out.

I’ve got about five weeks to edit and lay out the two adventures. That will get them in a state to have art done, I hope, by the end of December. I’ll admit it . . . that’s starting to look optimistic. Even so . . . time to get to it.

Next Year

The current project will run through the end of the year at least, and I suspect that I will slow down a bit on the back-to-back sprints that has been this year. Even so, there’s at least two major things happening next year, and maybe more than two.

More Perilous Journeys

The first up in 2020 will be the sequel to 2019s very successful effort. The logistics pathways and needs for counter sheets, card decks, and of course the adventures themselves are now well known. Shipping and production time scales and costs are known. I anticipate a much better planned effort this time. Hopefully with content that folks want. I hope that with a few more hoped-for solos, and lots more time to plan and execute the cards and counters, that this will be even more successful than the last one.

The Nordlond Bestiary

This is the big dog of the coming year. I wrote a huge amount of text for the Dragon Heresy RPG back in 2015 and 2016, taking most of the SRD and writing fluff text and stats accordingly for the Norse-inspired world. Well, those efforts have turned to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG…and the words are still there. This is going to be the bestiary folks in the GURPS sphere have been waiting for. A giant book of monsters, thematically unified by the Nordlond setting . . . but any GM worth their salt can port the critters to their own needs. It’s going to take a lot of work to do right, but I’ve got a great team.

Dragon Heresy

Speaking of Dragon Heresy, I do have plans next year of taking some of the existing work – Lost Hall, Nordvorn, Rosgarth, and Forest’s End and pulling them apart to turn them into two different books. One with lots of setting and flavor information, and one with the adventure content. I’m likely to crowdfund these to see if they can garner up enough interest for a profitable print run as well.

DriveThruRPG

I’ve avoided putting my stuff on DriveThru for a while; the bite they take out of revenue is large, and in most cases the print quality of their POD offerings is simply lower than the books I print in Latvia. But in 2020, all my PDFs will go up on DriveThru as well as through other channels. We’ll see what happens there.

Conventions

I’ll be at two conventions early in 2020. The first is Con of the North, here in Minneapolis Feb 14-16. So Happy Valentine’s Day. The second is FnordCon, down in Austin TX. That’s April 3-5.

Shields and Swords

I’ve refined my techniques on these, but they’re only going to be available by special order, through the website. I love making them, and have gotten much, much better at it. But they’re not really on point for the publishing business. Even so, if you’re interested, reach out. They’re not cheap, but the shields in particular are going to be closer to what you might have seen historically (based on certain finds) than most of what you see made of plywood online. Some of those plywood guys cost more than my planked, accurate ones!

Parting Shot

So that’s the recap for Gaming Ballistic. I’m not sure if the work above will be what folks want – I hope so – but it seems like a good plan for 2020. There might be one surprise – and it would be a big, cool one – that could show up later in the year.

It’s a full schedule, but less than I would be able to do if I could get the reach and interest to make my hobby job my day job. That, of course, is on me . . . and we’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ll win the lottery.

 

It’s another GURPSDay, and here’s the last few weeks of posts! My 8th Kickstarter, Norðvorn Sagas, launched on September 10, and funded on the 17th! We are now at 125% funding with more than three weeks to go. Given the trajectory of Kickstarters, we’re estimated by BackerTracker to hit over $30,000, well past the highest stretch goal. With help, we may even do better. This was helped a whole lot by a surprise addition.

The Hand of Asgard presents additional options and guidelines presented for Clerics who choose to devote themselves to the worship of just one instead of the pantheon as a whole. Also included are more than twenty new Holy Might abilities available for Asgardian Clerics and Holy Warriors to bring the word . . . or the sword . . . to those that need it. The book is 16 pages long, in 8×10 format. It is available as an add-on to a pledge level, rather than as part of an existing pledge.

 

In any case, we’re here for GURPSDay, so scroll all the way down (the random order is, well, random). Catch up and get some repeat views and if you missed some. They’re in reverse chronological order, so if you’re up-to-date, just skim off the top!

News for Gaming Ballistic:

  • The proof of Dungeon Grappling to finally finish all the physical rewards for Citadel at Nordvorn came in brilliantly (if months late). I got 100 of them printed, and the’re on the way to me (PubGraphics expedited the printing). They should be in the mail Tuesday. Finally.
  • I ordered all physical goods for Four Perilous Journeys except for the international card decks and counter tiles. Still working on CE Mark issues; need to chat with folks. Might have found a better option for the cards, but not the cardboard chits.
  • All five files for Four Perilous Journeys were accepted and the books will be ready to ship by October 4! 100 of each book will go to the UK for international distribution, and the balance come to the USA.
  • I announced the approval of the Nordlond Enemies Book (tentatively titled Norðlondr Óvinabókin) as my next approved Dungeon Fantasy RPG project. I’ve actually got an idea for a companion book that should be a very tasty treat.

GURPSDay is in its sixth – GURPSDay started in February 2013,  a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. Things have slowed down a bit, and I’ll be considering how to revitalize this weekly activity. I’d like to see an average of 100 posts here per week – one per blog, ish – so we’ll see what we can do to get creative juiced flowing.If you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay! Aug 30 to Sept 19, 2019”

The Norse-inspired Norðlond setting for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG keeps growing. Here’s what’s going on, and what’s coming, for Gaming Ballistic in this series of third-party products for SJG’s Powered-by-GURPS boxed set.

Nordlond Sagas: Now on Kickstarter

On Sept 10, Gaming Ballistic launched its 8th Kickstarter campaign, and much like the quite-successful “Four Perilous Journeys” campaign for The Fantasy Trip, Nordlond Sagas is also funding multiple books.

The Dragons of Rosgarth

48 or 64 pages
This setting expansion and adventure scenario details the towns of Midgard and Jarngarðr, and provides a looming threat worthy of a party of seasoned delvers. Targeted at four to six delvers of 300 points or more. Written by Kyle Norton.

Forest’s End

64 or 80 pages
A bold thegn built a fortified settlement beyond Audreyn’s Wall, near where the forest meets the sea: Skógarenda . . . Forest’s End. Forest’s End features several threats and three actual dungeons to delve for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG! Written by Merlin Avery.

Norðlondr Fólk

16 pages
Sixteen playable racial templates to supplement those from Dungeon Fantasy Adventurers, including Norðlond-specific versions of elves and dwarves. Also dragon-blooded, children of humans and demons, and other hybrids, such as raven-folk and those who are brothers and sisters to bear and boar. Written by Kevin Smyth.

Previous Books

Of course, if you missed out on the Hall of Judgment and Citadel at Nordvorn campaigns, those are available, along with the Fantastic Dungeon Grappling booklet, as both comprehensive “all the books” pledge levels in both PDF-only and Print/PDF bundles, as well as add-ons should you wish to pick and choose.

Announcing: Nordlond Bestiary and Enemies Book

Gaming Ballistic is thrilled to announce that we’ve been given the green light to develop a comprehensive bestiary for the Norðlond setting for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

It’s going to be very meaty, to the tune of 200 to 250 creatures, mundane and magical. Making it Nordlond-specific and based on the Dungeon Fantasy RPG means that the project and its collaborators get to write to a common target. The specificity of it means each creature and entry can be tailored well enough that it’s not just a list of generic creatures. The issue that plagues such projects is that it’s impossible to guess what campaign flavor it’s going to be in. By making this support Nordlond, it removes that constraint and allows me to be specific while not precluding other efforts or adaptations.

This is going to be, well, a beast of an endeavor. The good news is that tens, maybe even hundreds, of thousands of words already were written as part of a different project for this purpose. Some art even exists. And I even have a draft (work-in-progress, subject to change, etc.) cover:

A project this large will take a lot of funding to pull off. That’s why I haven’t rolled it in to the Norðlond Sagas kickstarter directly.

But I will say this: if by some miracle the current Kickstarter takes off and hits like $75,000 or $80,000 (which is a record-for-me-breaking campaign of 1200 to 1500 backers!), I’d not need to fund it separately to get to the printable PDF stage. I could develop it and only at the end use a short campaign to size the print run.

Wouldn’t THAT be fun?