Thursday is GURPSDay, and this one shows up on Friday. I swear, the first thing I’m doing when I finish writing Citadel is to try and implement my ideas around making this happen in a more automated fashion. More on that later.

I am busily writing The Citadel at Nordvorn, a mini-setting with far too much going on for its my own good, but it’s over 30,000 words and I will be doing a lot of writing for it in the next four days.

In personal Gaming Ballistic News:

  1. If you liked Hall of Judgment, and either also play or have friends that play Fifth Edition or Dragon Heresy, the Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) campaign closed having raised roughly the same amount of money as the 1st edition. That left us short of the offset print run stretch goal at $6,000 . . . but the Backerkit Phase is going very well, especially thanks to a few folks who ordered Viking-style shields! If you can show your D&D-playing friends the link, pitch it to your FLGS, it would go a long way. We’re something like $100-400 from that stretch goal, with two weeks left in the Backerkit phase. The more I can get product out there, the better stuff I can do for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, as rising sales lift all boats.
  2. There’s been a lot happening “under the waterline” over at GB, and more will be revealed soon. I will say that several varieties of product, not written by me, are all simmering on the mid-stove. Some of these will really excite SJG fans!

GURPSDay is in its fifth year – 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.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPSIf 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 Summary January 11, 2019 – January 18, 2019”

Daniel over at Mailanka’s Musings has a nice post on Map-Making in Theory and Practice. In short: a million times yes. I have to echo his throughts on Maps and Inspiration: a good map is really, really inspiring.

Started with a Map

It works both ways, too. In my Torengar/Nordlond setting for Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment and Lost Hall of Tyr, the map came first. I set up a history using Microscope and another “game to play a game” kit that I can’t remember anymore that helped set up the long prelude to the current state of the main realm. I drew up some key terrain features that appeared to be important, and then commissioned Cornelia Yoder to make me some maps.

I have since been leveraging those maps heavily in making the details of my setting sing. This is particularly true of the mini-setting I’m working on for what will hopefully be my first-quarter Kickstarter: The Citadel at Nordvorn.

Featuring the titular town of Nordvorn with its adjoining citadel, there are also three other important towns and villages of note, one of them destroyed.

The town of Ainferill (Riverbend) sits about 40 miles south of Nordvorn on the Jotunnain (a river; áin means river; I think properly conjugated it should be Jotunná, but I have it as “fun” that the northern areas use áin and the southern areas use á, as sort of a regional accent thing). It’s a town of about 1,000 souls, or about 200 families, give or take. It’s the seat of a Jarl, the second tier of noble, but they still have to get the king something like $10M per year in GURPS moneys, or about 200,000 gp in D&D moneys, as a Duty to keep the title.

Just north of Ainferill is the slightly smaller (750 people) town of Vegghofn (Sallyport), which marks the last easily-accessible break in Audreyn’s Wall (think in between Hadrian’s wall and the Great Wall of China) until the other side of a mountain range that the wall jogs around for Reasons.

Anyway, point is: I am detailing these three settlements. What are the important guilds? Why have guilds at all? What industries or products make each town unique? Why should there be a town here at all?

Greater Torengar/Nordlond

This is my realm map. What can I say about it? Well, it’s got heavy forest, plains, and lightly wooded or intermediate areas. These divide out nicely into “logging and forestry,” “grazing lands,” and “farming” when it comes to surplus products for more than just surviving. It’s a high-level thing, but it’s informative.

The cities cluster densely in the farming area (blue). More food, better climate, more trade, higher population density. The capital is also there.

A Slice of Nordlond

Hey, what do we have here? A slice of Nordlond/Torengar, with Isfjall from Hall of Judgment in the west, and stretching to Midgard in the East.

From Isfjall to Midgard and beyond. Still copyright Cornelia and licensed to me.

Northwatch is Nordvorn – one means the other. But it’s maybe 250 miles east of Isfjall, so it’s a hike if you walk it. But why would you? Take a boat and sail down the Wodenain to Nethanfoss, then it’s maybe 50 miles along the “Palisade Road,” which isn’t shown on the map. That should be an exciting trip, since the area to the Northwest of the Palisade is called The Hunted Lands, home to marauding faerie and more than its fair share of monstrosities, undead, constructs, and other things that wish to eat you.

But the map informs this. How long will it take to get there? Well, big rivers tend to move at a few miles per hour, 1-5 mph not being unusual. So the 200 mile trip on the river could be as fast as 40 hours, or two days, or as long as a week. Plenty of time in either case for a few encounters with river raiders or river-dwelling monsters, but not so long that the game will drag.

That last 50 miles to Northwatch from Nethanfoss is probably a few days hike as well, and while the path/road is guarded, it’s still dangerous lands.

That makes Nethanfoss a very interesting market. It has access to both grazing lands, water, and abuts the Einmanna forest. And it’s a crossroads, being the natural departure point for goods to come east from the settlements along the Wodenain.

All this from the map.

Ainferill

Now we venture south from Nordvorn, because there’s been a rumor that the Jarl is hiring adventurers. Or maybe killing them. It’s Nordlond: perhaps it’s both.

In any event, what’s going on at the Riverbend? Well, it’s got woods. It’s adjacent to a metal-rich mountain/range. It’s got grazing land. And it’s at a convenient stopping place for ships coming upriver to rest and get ready for a hard pull into the faster-flowing stretch of the river from Ainferill to Nordvorn.

If you do a bit of line work, you can see that the Jarl probably controls about 265 square miles of land, and about half of that is grazing land – ideal for sheep – that is mostly plains. The other half, to the north and west, is lightly wooded, leading to thicker woods in the Einmanna Forest.

OK. So we have wood, metal, wool, and cattle and goats. This is a shipbuilding town. It’s also one of the towns (the two south of Ainferill and west of Jarngardr are two more) from which a whole lot of sheep are raised and turned into wool, cloth, clothing, and other products.

This is a jarl whose income depends on wool, cattle, ships, and trade. That’s what he’s going to care about, and that’s where threats to his power – or extensions of it – will come from. Does he mine in the hills just across the river? Does the hajarl of Midgard resent this? Ainferill could sit in the demesne of either Northwatch or Midgard – are the jarl’s loyalties solid, or being tested?

What about bandits? Or monsters? If you do the work, something that between some expert help and the Adventurer Conqueror King books domain rules make easy, you can see that monsters or monstrous people killing or taking livestock will really honk off our jarl, as as much as 25% of his Duty – maybe more – can come out of the income stream from wool and cloth.

But . . . karls (freeholders) own their own lands. How does that work? Well, that’s where the guilds come in. That worked out nicely too.

Parting Shot

I spent a lot of time last night working with the map, agricultural data, and conversing with some experts to turn this slice of Nordlond into a living world. Not only is it living and hopefully provides some immersive detail, but it becomes something from which you can really see how folks might wish to bring an adventuring party on board to deal with problems.

Suffice to say that the tie of personality, economics and trade are all made more obvious with a good map. A map, a knowledge of what can be grown and made with certain natural resources, a feel for the personalities of the leaders and citizens and what they care about . . . and the adventures flow easily. Especially when the area in question has recently undergone some . . . rather dramatic calamities.

Stay tuned. Hopefully you’ll see this one pop up in the first quarter of this year!

Thursday is GURPSDay, and marks the first full week of 2019. It’s been a bit of a crazy week for me, as schedules are only now returning to normal after break (the kids are back in school) and trying to work out a good balance of writing and doing other things.

There are, however, things to do. I am busily writing The Citadel at Nordvorn, a mini-setting with far too much going on for its own good, for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. This is the first of three works that will be published for that game in 2019. As noted in my brief post today: I’m having ridiculous fun writing it.

In personal Gaming Ballistic News:

  1. If you liked Hall of Judgment, and either also play or have friends that play Fifth Edition or Dragon Heresy, the Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) campaign closed having raised roughly the same amount of money as the 1st edition. That left us short of the offset print run stretch goal at $6,000 . . . but the Backerkit Phase is going very well, especially thanks to a few folks who ordered Viking-style shields! If you can show your D&D-playing friends the link, pitch it to your FLGS, it would go a long way. We’re something like $100-400 from that stretch goal, with two weeks left in the Backerkit phase. The more I can get product out there, the better stuff I can do for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, as rising sales lift all boats.
  2. There’s been a lot happening “under the waterline” over at GB, and more will be revealed soon. I will say that several varieties of product, not written by me, are all simmering on the mid-stove. Some of these will really excite SJG fans!

GURPSDay is in its fifth year – 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.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPSIf 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 Summary January 4, 2019 – January 10, 2019”

Convenient Aircraft Carrier for Scale.

I’m busily writing The Citadel at Nordvorn, Gaming Ballistic’s next return to the world of Nordlond (known as Torengar in Dragon Heresy). This one’s a mini-setting, focusing on the events and interactions between important players (including the characters!) in the lands surrounding this vital town. I am having ridiculous fun putting these towns together.

I just finished the description and detailing of Nordvorn itself. I am moving on to the other two important towns in the book, Ainferill (Riverbend) and Vegghofn (Sallyport).

The compact nature of the towns – Ainferill and it’s roughly 1,000 inhabitants sits on a chunk of land and water about 25 acres in size. That’s a circle about 350m in diameter, which is basically the size of The O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) in England. That is, the entire village would fit inside it.

Even the much larger keep and town of Nordvorn is only 7,500 residents and its longest dimension is only three times that of Ainferill.

These are little places, relatively speaking, which means they can truly come alive with detail.

I certainly hope that you enjoy visiting them as much as I am writing them.

Excerpts

Some fun bits from the draft. Subject to change, of course. Presented entirely lacking context or structure.

Lyfta Road

The “lift road” is named for its terminus at the great lifts coming from the docks and the lower market and shipyard. After one leaves the market proper, one can find all sorts of ironmongery and shipfitting crafts: Sailmakers, blacksmiths, armorers, brassworkers, and weaponsmiths. The armorers and weapon-makers are closest to the Ring Road, mostly to reduce the noise. Any goods coming upstream, or going downstream, by ship must pass through the lift. As such, some call Lyfta Road “Skattgötu,” or “tax street.”

Eternal Bridge

A name like that invites hubris, but the Eilífur Brú has the chops to merit the name. The walls are over 20 feet thick, the columns, supports, and span magically melded with the strong rock of the river gorge. It has stood up to wind, weather, and thrown boulders from trolls and hill giants, as well as projectiles from siege engines.

The bridge begins with a massive structure known as The Terrace Gate, which as its name implies houses a series of massive doors each on a different level of the structure. The Terrace Gate actually enters a hundred feet or so below the top of the eastern gorge wall, and the winding staircase with interlocking gates, murder-holes, and other defensive emplacements is called The Spiral.

The town side of the Eternal Bridge ends in a large walled enclosure as well. There are barracks, training grounds, and defensive emplacements, and the entire structure would rank as one of the notable fortifications in Nordlond if it weren’t immediately adjacent to the Citadel itself.

The Hunting Gate

The closest tower and sallyport to Little Rock. Even more than the other city gates, the Hunting Gate is constructed to be used, and frequently, for war. It is staged to allow sorties from within the Lower Town when needed, as well as the point of departure for those thegns, huskarls, and Wardens who attempt to keep the people and goods coming out of the Hunted Lands safe. Or at least safer.

Sigurtákn

Thievery is forbidden. Sneaking around and taking someone else’s property is punishable by outlawry and thralldom. However, challenging someone to combat over a coveted possession, or facing them in some sort of fight, real or provoked, allows the victor vast leeway in claiming spoils of battle (in some cases this can include property and in older times, even family). Property obtained in this manner is called sigurtakn, (“victory token,” or “trophy”) and is considered honorable. Well, at least valorous. Dangerous, perhaps? A man bedecked head to toe in armor and weapons that are all sigurtakn is a man to be kept at arm’s length. Such people are called dýrð-óðir, or “glory-mad,” (behind their backs) and given the same sort of respect you give a scorpion, venomous snake, or feral dog – admiration for their deadliness, but not someone you turn your back on. Ever.

 

I am making slow but steady process on The Citadel at Nordvorn, my first of three upcoming supplements for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. It’s set in the same world as Hall of Judgment, but will easily be portable to any other game world with the right tweakage. I can see Nordvorn as it takes shape, and each area of the Lower Town, and the interesting places the PCs can visit, is plunking down on the map with ever-increasing certainty.

Citadel is not an adventure, as such. It is a web of locations and interactions, in which the players can find adventure. So it’s more of a mini-setting.

But it is, by far, the most detailed and specific thing I’ve done. Not “detailed rules,” because it’s not that sort of supplement. But the GM and players will know/can find out where to find all sorts of stuff. I was impressed when Rob Conley had all the rich descriptions of what shops and trades we were walking by in his Harn-inspired city that we played in way back when.

I think Nordvorn will be like that. I’m really looking forward to the maps.

It’s that time again, and on the first day of the New Year, it’s time to do a retrospective, a Gaming Ballistic 2018 Year in Review.

Summary

Here’s the skinny.

The Blog

  • Averaged 4.25 posts per week, 220 posts total for the year. Best year ever was 307 in 2016.
  • Lower unique content delivery in general, as things focused on the publishing end
  • Maintained good fidelity to GURPSDay
  • Need to re-energize the blog side of things in 2019

The Company

  • Ran three successful Kickstarters in one year! The first two continued my record of “on time or early” on my KS projects, making me four-for-four. The last one kicked off in December, and while it’s on schedule, can’t be considered early, late, or other just yet.
  • Dragon Heresy got published as a Level 1-5 Introductory Set, in what is the best-feeling RPG book I’ve ever handled. Really: the production values are stunning and compare with anything the big dogs (or anyone else) have made. It’s a great book with great content, and I’m very proud of it.
  • Hall of Judgment became the first-ever, and currently only, licensed product for SJG’s Dungeon Fantasy RPG
  • HoJ was run at several conventions, including GameHole Con by me, and was quite popular
  • HoJ was my most successful KS to date in terms of backer count (over 500), and post-KS sales have been good. Counting PDF and Print sales individually (which means if you bought a print and PDF copy, you get counted twice), Hall of Judgment has moved over 1,000 copies, making it my most popular product to date. GURPS folks have been good to me.
  • GB was profitable by a few thousand bucks (more on that in the coming weeks) in 2018. If sales of the Dragon Heresy core book take off even a little, this will provide a vital source of revenue to support ongoing work. I have since learned that what I thought were zero sales in December (true) was expected; first actual sales coming in January, with 25 pre-orders confirmed, with more expected! This is unexpected wind in my sails (sales?).
  • I received three additional contracts for more expansions for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG in 2019! The releases will be spread through the year. The first title will be The Citadel at Norðvörn and it should enter crowdfunding in the first quarter of 2019.
  • A second edition of Lost Hall of Tyr was successfully crowd-funded, but once again I was shocked at how few folks backed the project based on my pre-campaign market analysis.
  • Marketing and outreach needs to be a priority for 2019 if I’m going to successfully see “take-off” in the future
  • GameHole Con was awesome and I’ll return there, and try and generally increase my convention presence in the future; even so: day job limits the amount of time I can spend at such events.

The Man

  • I gamed less than I wanted to this year
  • I definitely felt singed running two Kickstarters back-to-back with Dragon Heresy and Hall of Judgment. These were successful, but wow.
  • Some major and positive life-changes in my household (my wife got a great full-time job in her area of expertise) were still very disruptive on my schedule
  • I need to exercise more, and force time for it. Day-job and schedule changes make this harder
  • Keeping track of many social media feeds is draining.
  • I’ve been enjoying the hell out of shield-building and wooden weapon-crafting for my Viking stuff, but there are issues to be resolved with it in terms of where my time is best spent.

Overall, it’s hard to argue:  2018 was a successful year for Gaming Ballistic. I just wish it felt more successful. The miss on the number of folks who would be interested in Lost Hall 2e is particularly painful. I’d pondered hanging up GB entirely in October-November, but then I got the three contracts for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG for 2019, which was uplifting. I hope that these three projects, plus a few more in the pipeline, provide the wind in the sails for 2019.

Dragon Heresy needs some actual play, some good reviews and press, and a bit of word-of-mouth. If it can get it, it can be a bit player overall and still make the difference in my being able to self-fund, rather than crowdfund, projects. I have more ideas from myself and others than I have cash-flow to support, mostly in the “it costs good money to get good art” category. I like going into crowdfunding with nearly everything complete, and that can’t happen just yet in 2019.

That’s the summary. More details below the break.

Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic 2018 Year in Review”

As seems to be frequently the case, when I’m in heavy writing mode there’s not much time for much else. The Citadel at Norðvörn needs wordcount!

Writing the Content

I’m trying to write an average of 1,500 words per day, which is non-trivial but I want to get this out there. I’m working from a healthy mind-map of the setting relationships, so it’s really a matter of picking one of the lines or dotted lines and expanding on each bit.

There are no pre-conceived outcomes here. Citadel is about a situation, and every group of PCs, along with the GM, will take this mini-setting and run with it.

The mind-map will be included in the adventure in some form or another, for easy reference. I was able to pretty much improv my way through a Dragon Heresy session with such a map, and with the creatures in the main DH book and those included in the adventure book if needed, plus the extensive guide to key personalities that’s going into the Citadel book, you can probably “just play.” That’s the goal, anyway.

Citadel, though, is the first of three planned Dungeon Fantasy RPG releases in 2019, so I want to get on it fast, so that my Inner Team can playtest it and see what holds up and what needs expansion (or trimming).

Right now I’m at about 8500 words into a document that needs a minimum of about 44,000 (roughly 80 pages) and a maximum of about 71,000 (128 pages). I think 80 pages will be the best based on the last Kickstarter’s performance, as a nice blend of “I can deliver an equally-good product” and “not go broke.” Still, if there’s more content – and there can easily be more content – and the KS does very well, I can add it.

Art and Maps

This one’s going to need some serious art help, though.

At least three city maps, likely four or five: Northwatch (Norðvörn) citadel, the lower city, and the towns of Ainferill (Riverbend) and Vegghofn (Sallyport). Probably a map – really an encounter location – for another village that forms a major nexus of conflict for the area.

Lots of character art. Not every NPC gets drawn up, of course, but some of the main ones need detailing. Lots of opportunity for folks that do character sketches here.

A few full- or half-page scenes of key conflicts. Like this one:

So please forgive me if my blog content is a bit muted, or only happens in fits and starts: I’m head down at the keyboard.

But if you really want to help me get a jump on things, especially the city maps, you might consider supporting the current Kickstarter for a shelf-worth print run of the Dragon Heresy version of Hall of Judgment. Every now and then, I get a short spell of orders for Dragon Heresy; that makes for some serious help in buying art, paying writers, and generally making more new content.