Status and Trajectory

There’s no better way to say it than to show it:

Double Your Dungeon Fantasy Fun

There are TWO Dungeon Fantasy RPG products on Kickstarter right now, and they’re being mutually supported by Gaming Ballistic and Steve Jackson Games.

The Citadel at Norðvorn funded several days ago and is now in the process of crushing stretch goals. We surpassed the first yesterday, and we’re on course to hit another one today or tomorrow! More on that later.

Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 and Boxed Set Reprint also funded a few days ago, and is in the process of knocking down stretch goals.

The SJG and Gaming Ballistic projects are separate, but have mutually-supporting stretch goals!

  • When Citadel hit $16,000 not only did Nordvorn boost to 112 pages, DFM2 upgraded the dice inside the box.
  • If Citadel hits $18,000 (possibly today!) DFM2 puts a game notebook in each box.
  • If DFM2 hits $45,000 (less than $800 to go as I type this) then SJG will include an entirely new RPG supplement by Gaming Ballistic, Fantastic Dungeon Grapplingin each copy of the reprint of the Box Set.

That’s not even talking about the DFM2 stretch goal at $48K and $60K for more pages in the Monsters book itself, and the offset print run for Nordvorn at $25,000, which would see the game on store shelves as well as available through Warehouse 23 and Gaming Ballistic’s website.

The level of cooperation here might be unprecedented (might not; it’s certainly unusual). My data – which I’ve shared over on theRPGsite after it came up – shows at at least on MY end, the mutual support has been effective and shows the strength of the line.

And I’ve got at least two more adventures – true adventures, not settings – being written right now.

It’s a great time to be involved in the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Please consider backing both projects today!

The Citadel at Norðvörn

 

Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 and Boxed Set Reprint

This has come up a few times. Cross-Kickstarter promotions – where two publishers are actively promoting and incentivizing  each other’s products at the same time – are somewhere between “rare” and “unheard of” from what I’ve seen (love to see other examples, though!).

So when Steve Jackson Games and Gaming Ballistic each hosted a stretch goal for the other company’s campaign, some confusion was naturally generated.

Here’s the deal.

What’s Different about FDG vs HoJ’s Version

Fantastic Dungeon Grappling is now 8 pages instead of four. It incorporates learning from over a year of play in terms of penalties and how folks actually grapple in the game. Experience showed that while the control points given and received were fair, they were not always fun, and I don’t care how  detailed or realistic a system is, if it’s not fun you won’t use it, and it’s missed its mark.

We also looked at things that monsters need to do (swallow PCs whole), flying creatures need to do (pick you up and fly away with you so they can eat you later or feed you to their hungry offspring), and some dedicated “abracadabra you’re grappled” spells. I think we amplified on a few other options as well.

How Do I Get the Book?

There are two ways to get it.

The first – and best – is to contribute to the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 Kickstarter at the boxed set level, AND see to it that the $45,000 stretch goal is reached for that product. If that happens, SJG will be including a copy of Fantastic Dungeon Grappling in each box printed, if I understand it correctly.

The other way is to add $4 for the PDF, $7 for print, or $9 for Print + PDF to the Citadel at Nordvorn pledge, and when you get to backerkit, you’ll be able to place that in your cart with the credit you’ll receive from your pledge.

That’s it, really. I do need to add the Fantastic Dungeon Grappling banner and text (probably the text above, actually) to my Citadel campaign. Yesterday and today have been fantastic and nutso and exciting on both a personal and professional level, so I’m a step behind on that front.

The Blind Mapmaker was a big backer – he got his own character – on Hall of Judgment. He also does great reviews.

His review of Hall of Judgment  was complete, criticized where warranted and praised what he liked.

So I offered him the opportunity to get a preview of what was done already: This was his report.

Preview of The Citadel at Norðvörn powered by DFRPG

This is Grappling

Grappling has always gotten short shift in games. Gaming Ballistic wrestled with this problem repeatedly over the years, first with GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling for GURPS (available at Warehouse 23), and then for 5e, Swords & Wizardry, and the Pathfinder RPG with Dungeon Grappling (PDF at Warehouse 23Print and PDF at Gaming Ballistic)

The knowledge and play experience from all of that helped me create Fantastic Dungeon Grappling, a short insert in Hall of Judgment. And now, thanks to the successful funding of the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 Kickstarter, Steve Jackson Games has a new stretch goal for that campaign.

New Dungeon Fantasy 2 Monsters Stretch Goal: $45,000

If the DFM2 Kickstarter shoots through $45,000, Steve Jackson Games has agreed to include a copy of the 8-page Fantastic Dungeon Grappling booklet in the boxed set itself.

All of Gaming Ballistic’s Dungeon Fantasy RPG products are 8×10″ size . . . just like the box. And if that stretch goal is reached, we get to put that into practice.

Fantastic Dungeon Grappling takes the “attack roll, defense roll, damage roll” basic play of Powered by GURPS and makes it work for grappling as well. A new simplified tracking mechanism – tested over years of play – keeps this fast and light at the table.

And After the Grapple, easily and quickly perform feats such as Takedowns, Disarms, and inflicting pain or injury on your target.

Oh . . . and of course there are a few new magic spells that grapple, plus a short section on the best part about grappling: having your monsters grab and eat the players!

To unlock this new stretch goal and improve the box set contents, please visit and support The Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 Kickstarter today! And for those of you who already own the box, don’t worry!. . . Fantastic Dungeon Grappling will be available separately as a $9 for Print+PDF, and $4 in PDF-only, during the Backerkit phase of The Citadel at Nordvorn!

Excellent progress

The Citadel at Nordvorn is doing very nicely. A bit more each day, and just shy of $1500 to the first stretch goal. 405 actual backers, which exceeds where we were on Hall of Judgment four days before the campaign closed . . . and we have twice as much time remaining!

Speaking of those last four days on HoJ . . . we added 122 backers and $3300 in that period. So that’s one measure of where we might get. On the other side, there’s $12,500 in latent backers – those following but not pledged yet pledged! Though we probably wont’ get all of them, I hope to get many!  And note that total, plus the actual pledges of about $14,500, significantly eclipses the $25,000 stretch goal by quite a lot.

Do I smell offset printing in the air?

Cover! and Art Direction

Rick turned in his final version of the cover (and got paid that day, because when folks do good work for you, you pay them right away).

I’ve put in some draft “ad copy” for the left-hand side of the book. It’s being revised and edited for maximum “bite” but as is, this cover could go to print. I believe even the ISBN is accurate.

I’ve also given out all of the art direction for the parts of the book that are complete, and sent contracts to all of my artists. All have responded positively to the suggestions, and a few have come right back with “but how about this instead?” which I love. These guys are pros . . . I am one level above stick figures.

So we should see some really fine, fine pieces from the team, and I’m looking forward to seeing them develop.

Until then . . . keep spreading the word about the Citadel at Nordvorn, and back Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 as well!

This week and next week will continue the string of “rah rah!” GURPSDays. Still looking to rally support for the two Kickstarters going on that influence the future of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG specifically, and GURPS more broadly.

Let’s start with the big one.

Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2/Boxed Set Reprint

This one’s important, and it’s 83% funded! It’s been having some very good days, but it can use more. It’s on track to hit about $50K, but it has to fund before it starts hitting stretch goals. I think it’s important, especially for those that passed on the first Kickstarter, to pay attention to this one. Why this? Why more fantasy? Why not leverage GURPS to do something that isn’t D&D?

There have been GURPSy releases that are not Fantasy. Even sub-lines, such as Monster Hunters and After the End. Many volumes of Spaceships! Steampunk now has three releases. Good stuff, all. But there have been 20+ volumes of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. Other genres clearly didn’t generate the sales, the inspiration for authors to step up and write books in those genres, or both.

I like other stuff too! I’d dearly love to see some modern-day boxed set/subline love. I’d also like to see characters of 100-200 point variety featured more prominently. But between what folks are willing to write, and what folks have been buying, Dungeon Fantasy has been the obvious and repeated winner. Winner and still champion, as it were.

So they’re not just handing the ball to the guy and having him slam his face into the scrimmage line. There’s their own sales data and feedback from shows, cons, reviews, emails to the SJG staff, etc. that back it up. Which comes back around to “PLEASE back both DFM2/Boxed set and (self-interest alert!) Nordvorn. If these do well, someone like myself could ask to do something not-Fantasy. If they don’t . . . there might be nothing at all.

The Citadel at Norðvorn

We funded!! We hit the $13,000 goal – the highest of any Kickstarter of mine to date – and are now past $14,000. Going strong! At the current trajectory, we’ll likely pass the first stretch goal. We have enough backers following but not yet pledged to go all the way to the offset print run at $25,000 . . . in fact if all the latent backers came in at the current average pledge, we’d have over $26,000 now! My best ever latent conversion rate was 41%, on Hall of Judgment. That’s 95 people who are statistically likely to come over, which is $3,400. So it looks really good for the first stretch goal . . . and we’ll see about more!

If you can manage to throw in early, please do so. The latest updates can be found below, in the Gaming Ballistic section.

Share Early, Share Often

As noted above, the key to success for both campaigns is new folks. In particular, retail stores and bulk orders are really key. They are more likely to bring in new players, and they tend to order many copies, which helps push up the numbers for print runs, and large print runs are better on a marginal cost basis. That means more financial success for the line, which means we want to do more, better, and faster.

So, what can you do?

  • Reshare this post. Seriously.
  • Jump over to this thread on rpg.net, and let folks know about Citadel (the new set discussion starts on p. 88). Tell them about Hall of Judgment, if you have it or have played it, or point them to reviews if you haven’t.
  • Share this Facebook or this tweet. The more folks see it, the more attention, and the more backers we can get. This has knock-on effects! More than one site, like Kicktraq, uses the number of comments and the general buzz about a project to decide how to feature it.
  • Do the same thing for the Boxed Set. I can’t stress this enough: without the Boxed Set and continued interest and support from both backers and Steve Jackson Games, there’s no product line for me to support. Share play stories. Talk to your local game stores this weekend. Both the Boxed Set and Nordvorn have retail levels where you can get more than one copy of the game at a significant discount.

Back to GURPSDay

A quick note: I’m getting five blogs that pull up empty each time. I’ll contact the owners, but check your settings, too!

GURPSDay is starting 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 “Thursday is still Dungeon Fantasy Day! March 8 to March 14, 2019”

So, today’s Adventure seed features Draugr. Lots of them. Obviously, these would fit into Norðlond, because draugr. But did you know that (at least according to the Viking Answer Lady), it was expected for the groom to retrieve an ancestral sword from a barrow.

Let me quote the passage in full:

Originally by Viking Answer Lady

Since men did not wear a visible token of their bachelor status, the symbolic removal of their old identity followed a much different ritual from that being followed by the bride. The groom was required to obtain an ancestral sword belonging to a deceased forebear for use later in the wedding ceremony. There is a string tradition in the sagas of breaking grave-mounds in order to retrieve a sword belonging to a deceased forebear, to be given to a son of the family, and Hilda Ellis-Davidson finds evidence for the importance of such a sword at the wedding (Hilda R. Ellis-Davidson. “The Sword at the Wedding,” in Patterns of Folklore. Ipswich UK: D.S. Brewer, 1978. p. 123). This would indeed be a powerful ritual of separation and destruction of the man’s identity as a bachelor, with the descent into the grave-mound to recover the sword serving as a symbolic death and rebirth for the groom. If an appropriate barrow was not available, the ancestral sword may have been concealed by the groom’s relatives in a mock-tumulus (Ibid., p. 109). This would provide an opportunity for the groom to be confronted by a man costumed as a ghost or aptrgangr of his ancestor, who might elaborate on the young man’s instruction by reminding him of his family history and lineage, the importance of tradition, and the need to continue the ancestral bloodline. On the other hand, the sword which the groom had to obtain might instead be gotten from a living relative, complete with the lecture on family history: the sagas are not clear on this point and nowhere actually describe grave-breaking as a part of the wedding ceremony.

So, in order to get married . . . a vital part of the society . . . our young viking had to go on a dungeon delve. Sure, it’s likely one a one or two room dungeon, but in Fantasy Norse Thegn Land, you have a very, very real expectation of finding a dead guy (or gal!) at the end of it, and that corpse was really possessive about their stuff.

If it is a true ancestor, perhaps you could get by with a test of mettle, or suffering through a lecture on marriage and the undead’s expectations of his living ancestors. Or perhaps that was her favorite sword and she feels she needs it in Valholl, so get yer grubby mitts off of it.

Things like this, plus the deep mythology of the culture, some of which we’re all familiar with (it’s likely that the words wraith and wight came from raiðr and vaettr, pronounced, you guessed it, wraith-urr and vight-urr; not to mention Tiw’s Day, Woden’s Day, Thor’s Day, and Freya’s Day/Frigga’s Day), were one of the reason that, after a quick playtest session using the Norse myths, I quickly settled on that culture as the basis for my future world.

It’s DEEP. And between marriage customs, the expected behavior of its inhabitants, and that the Viking culture got its name from the practice of venturing out, killing people, and taking their stuff, and the deep pervasiveness of magic and rune lore . . . it made it simply a natural for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Go back the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2/Boxed Set Reprint campaign, and while you’re at it, throw in for The Citadel at Norðlond too, and put this particular seed to work for you immediately.

Mockup! $317 to go; $24,000 actual plus latent!

 

The Citadel at Nordvorn is close to funding! Only $317 to go! If you’re one of the 315 backers following but not yet pledged to The Citadel at Nordvorn, I just want to note that *today* would be a mighty fine day to jump on board.

If we take those pledged and add those following . . . we’re now up to $24,000 which makes the offset print run stretch goal, and a 128 page book, start to look feasible.

Gaming Ballistic started as a blog in late 2012, and then became a company in its own right in October 2016, as the company formally launched its first product, Dungeon Grappling.

This year, 2018, marks the second full year of the company’s operation. It still has but one person doing all of the administrative work: me. During 2018, Gaming Ballistic existed as a vehicle to deliver Douglas’ game ideas, but that will change in 2019.

Gaming Ballistic is a producer of games and entertainment.

2017 Recap and Goals for 2018

In 2017, Gaming Ballistic posted a nearly $20,000 loss. This was mostly expected, since I made big investments in 2017 in Dragon Heresy, and my product focus was on small releases.

My stated goals for 2018 were

  • Release Dragon Heresy
  • Increase revenue and marketing reach
  • Write “The Hunted Lands,” a mini-setting for the DH Intro Set
  • Attend at least two conventions, in Iceland and Wisconsin
  • Make and Sell more shields
  • Five unannounced secret projects
  • Increase blogging of new content
  • Move Venture Beyond ahead

That was a tall order. How did I do?

2018 Executive Summary

To hit the highlights:

  • Gaming Ballistic increased revenue by over 450% in 2018 over 2017!
  • I still lost about $6,000 overall; I know where the losses were, and they’re understandable and OK for a company starting out
  • 2019 has over 15 products queued up, including one in Kickstarter right now, and could be amazing
  • Dragon Heresy, Hall of Judgment, and Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) are all gorgeous
  • I have launched and delivered five Kickstarters either early or on time

The High Points

Gaming Ballistic, oddly enough, makes games. Roleplaying games, to be precise. Ultimately, making and selling such things are why GB exists.

Fortunately, this year I managed to get three products into the launch tube.

Dragon Heresy

The big goal after 2017 was to hack down my monumental manuscript for the Dragon Heresy RPG into a single book. I got this done, Kickstarted it, and the project went very well. I did not blow the doors off the house and attract 1,000 backers and $100,000 . . . but I did, at literally the last few minutes of the campaign, smash through the $16,000 stretch goal that got me an offset print run! As a result, I managed to print 1,500 copies of what is one of the best-looking games I’ve handled. Most people who see it comment very favorably on its production values. That was a well-run campaign, and I spared no expense in getting the book done.

Dungeon Fantasy RPG License!

The really big news for 2018 was that Gaming Ballistic was granted a license to convert Lost Hall of Tyr, a 64-page adventure for 5e, into Hall of Judgment, a mildly de-Norsed adventure for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. The project went incredibly well, crushing my prior record for number of backers, and making very nearly as much money (short by $1000) as the far more expensive Dragon Heresy. This one was, and remains, profitable, and it has been very well reviewed.

This went very well. Very well. It went so well that as Sean noted in his foreword to the upcoming Citadel at Norðvorn, it changed the course of SJG’s intent for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, and landed me three additional projects to boot.

GameHole Con

I also hit my first convention since GenCon in 2017. I ran Hall of Judgment twice, played games with Matt Finch, and Steve Jackson, when I asked how Gaming Ballistic could work more with SJG, said “Write for The Fantasy Trip.”

More on that later. I missed out on a booth there for 2019, but I’ll be going back.

Shields and Weapons

The viking shields were a case study in research and improvement. I sold six to eight shields in 2018, including during my Kickstarters. Mostly, in fact, during the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter. But I also made a lot of investment in time and experimentation, eventually producing a pretty darn awesome hide faced-and-backed shield that even my picky Viking Martial Arts instructor approved for use in class. The pure satisfaction of making these right is a joy to me.

I also dabbled in making wooden wasters – practice swords – for class. These were not for sale (yet), but they were a big hit. As soon as I get a breather I’ll be making a bunch more of these for my Asfolk classmates.

Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition)

This is cheating a bit, but I launched and funded a third Kickstarter in December 2018. While financially, it did not meet the goals I set for it mentally, even if I couldn’t fund an offset print run, the book that came from the campaign is beautiful. Glynn did a remarkable job with the maps. All 1st Edition backers got the upgraded PDF for free, as promised.

It was also my first chance to test out the dual-print-run strategy I’d concocted to beat international shipping. Thus far, it’s going well. I’ll tell you more in a month.

Kickstarter Delivery

Not to put too fine a point on it, but as of the end of 2018, all of GB’s Kickstarters were delivered on time or early. People are saying nice things about me in that regard.

Off Target: Challenges and Missteps

Each year brings opportunities for improvement, and some missed steps.

Goals Not Met

The big stuff that I feel I didn’t do well is increase my blogging of new content, really extend my marketing reach, and move Venture Beyond along.

Companies live and die by the number of folks they can draw into their products. I’ve got some great stuff on offer, but my mailing list and ability to attract new customers was not what it needed to be by the end of the year.

Lost Hall of Tyr Goes Thud

I took a hard look at my prior Kickstarters for Dragon Heresy, Dungeon Grappling, and the original Lost Hall. I identified over 200 people that had backed Dragon Heresy but not the original Lost Hall. Then there were a bunch more that had backed Lost Hall in PDF only, and still more that had only gone for Dungeon Grappling. I figured I could hit the $6,000 softcover, lay-flat binding easy. The only real question was if we could scare up the 300 backers at $25 each (ish) to hit the hardcover printing.

Well, apparently the real question was something else. Roughly 131 folks, which is about 1/3 of the number that backed Dragon Heresy, came on board. We got a great digital print run (and I discovered a great domestic short-run printer to deliver it domestically).

But LHoT2e was a great example of coming back down to earth. I missed the market on this really, really badly.

Burnout

I launched Hall of Judgment the day after the PDF for Dragon Heresy went to the printers. I delivered both on time or early. Then I launched Lost Hall of Tyr 2e, thinking I’d step up my volume game, and it fell pretty flat. Sales of Dragon Heresy seemed lukewarm at best.

I really considered just hanging it up at that point. But then I got word from SJG that they were giving me a pretty awesome license to write TFT projects, and of course I had Nordvorn and two more projects in the hopper . . . So I committed to going full throttle in 2019.

2018 Financial Summary

Gaming Ballistic overall was not profitable in 2018, losing about $6,250 over the year.

Let me tell you why this is a tremendously good thing.

Revenue: Over 450% Improvement

First up: GB took in over $41,000 in sales and other income in 2018, more than 5.5x the prior year.

Actually, that’s pretty much it. I had tremendous revenue growth this year. New goal to beat! The good news/bad news is that I’ve got something like 1,200 copies of Dragon Heresy left to sell. Every single sale goes right to profit; they’re sunk costs at this point. One good review in the right place, and those can move quickly. Good potential here, but my watchword was revenue for 2018, and I hit that mark.

Costs: 85% Increase

My costs went up too, but much of that was in buying books. It took nearly $19,000 to bring Dragon Heresy home (and nearly 2/3 of that was printing the thing and getting it to the USA, and shipping it to backers).

I also spent nearly $2,000 in 2018 on Lost Hall 2e, and the maybe $5,000 to $6,000 in revenue that came from Kickstarter and Backerkit hasn’t come in yet. So 2019 is already looking nice.

Places to improve: I dropped a lot of money on raw materials for shields, backing other folks’ Kickstarters, and I spent quite a bit setting myself up with a computer worthy of graphic design and layout.

Adobe is still bloody expensive ($660 per year!) and I am strongly considering a move to Affinity Publisher and Photo. One-time fees for the win.

Net: Still Lost Money

A company’s business is to make money doing cool stuff. I lost money doing cool stuff, but I lost a LOT less, maybe 3x, than the prior year.

In My Sights: 2019 Goals

Well, if 2018 was the year of revenue, 2019 needs to be the year of profit and growth.

I’m going to be brief here.

  • I’ve got three Dungeon Fantasy RPG products in queue. The Citadel at Nordvorn is in Kickstarter right now, and 92% funded with two weeks to go.
  • The Dragons of Rosgarth, by Kyle Norton, and Forest’s End, by Merlin Avery will come out later this year. Both are more traditional adventures, and both will Kickstart
  • Fantastic Dungeon Grappling, a short independent take on the 4-page rules from Hall of Judgment, is nearly done. That one won’t go to Kickstarter, mostly because of bandwidth!
  • I have a licence to produce a minimum of 10 short adventures for The Fantasy Trip. David Pulver and Christopher R. Rice are hard at work, having completed one each and closing in on the second. That will Kickstart in April, and hopefully begin a series of once-a-month releases. We’ll see how the first KS goes, though
  • James Spahn is writing a viking-flavored OSR adventure for me. I can’t wait to see it.
  • I still need to do more original content publishing on my blog
  • I need to be profitable in 2019

That’s it. 2018 was much improved from 2017 . . . and 2019 could be amazing.