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.

The print copies are on their way to me in the US, and will soon be on their way to my UK fulfillment house. That means print copies will arrive to all backers by the end of March for the Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) Kickstarter. Committed delivery date was before June. Am I pleased about this? Yes. Yes I am.

US Printing Complete!

I received notice that the US printing is ALSO complete. I expect to receive all the books by UPS Ground in the next few days, and it is possible that they could arrive before the weekend is out, which means, since my printer is in Iowa, only a 1-2 day ship time. So I should have them on Friday. Which means they’ll go into the USPS Monday.

Since it takes 2-10 business days to hit destinations in the USA: most everyone should have their copies by March 18.

Rest of World Proof received!

I also got the hardcopy proof from my UK printer today.

The Good

It’s a very attractive book. Putting my micrometer to it, it’s 8.2mm thick as opposed to 8.8mm for the US book. It’s about 90g lighter as well. It’s sharp looking and the color fidelity is good. Binding is good quality.

The changes I made to the cover were made properly.

The matte interiors on the silk-coated paper are legit nice. Under very strong lights in my dining room, they’re far easier to read than one would expect; even the ink doesn’t glisten/reflect much. It’s very nice.

Needs Improvement

I’d sent about 20 pages of corrections. Typos, missing formatting, and a few other things, on the inside of the book. These were not done, though the files were downloaded.

Where we Stand

I told them I would need to validate that the new pages were inserted, but that a digital proof would be acceptable for that. If they do this tonight (no reason they should not), then print approval for the not-the-US books will be given tomorrow (Thursday), and the print process beings. It’s only two or three dozen copies; it shouldn’t take very long.

I suspect fulfillment will begin on these next week, then. I’ll start working with Kixto to get quantities in hand, and print any other copies of books I need to deliver; there are only a few with multiple orders that will be challenging, so for the most part, not-the-US backers should have their stuff by the end of March.

Pix below the fold.

Flawless Victory?

This is the fifth book I’ve delivered early or on time. I am very pleased with that: no one wants to have to wait for their stuff longer than needed.

I’m running another Kickstarter right now. Set in the same world as Lost Hall/Hall of Judgment, The Citadel at Nordvorn expands the setting geography and lore. Check it out!
Continue reading “Lost Hall of Tyr: Print copies enter final stage”

I’m going to be on two more shows in the next two days!

RPG Coast to Coast

I will be one of the hosts tonight at the RPG Coast to Coast at 9:00pmEST//8:00pmCST//7:00pmMST//6:00pmPST.

Topics for tonight include discussing Longevity of D&D, Art not the Artist, How Best to Promote your Product, and whatever else strikes our fancy.

It’s going to be held in the Tenkar’s Tavern Discord chat.

How do I get to The Tavern Discord? Follow these Steps:

  • Step 1.) Go here https://discordapp.com/download
  • Step 2.) Click which is best for you Windows, Mac, Android, IOS, or Linux and download it.
  • Step 3.) Once it has finished downloading click the + button surrounded by a dotted circle on the left hand side
  • Step 4.) Click the Join a Server button and copy and paste this into it https://discord.gg/GaXW2TX

Being Stalked by Matt Finch

OK, not really. I reached out to him. 🙂

Even so, we will be chatting on his D&D Neighborhood channel at 6pm Central time, Saturday Feb 23. We always have fun.

Morning! As we head into what will be a heavy writing weekend for me on Citadel at Norðvorn, I wanted to leave you with two podcasts.

Roleplay Rescue (Che Webster)

Che and I talk for about an hour, and cover gaming stuff both old and new.

Game Night on Geek Gab

I return to their show for the third time. We cover what’s gone on at Gaming Ballistic since HoJ, being nice to customers, and group stealth rolls . . . plus a bunch of Nordvorn sporadically through the show.

I’ve updated the Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) PDF to correct some errors I noticed while looking at the proof. This should be the final file, though doubtlessly in the future someone will point out something I missed. This is the change log.

You should be receiving a Backerkit distribution of the file. I’m currently spooling out a new interior file for the printer(s), and that will be uploaded slightly later today. They actually prefer changes in the form of single page, but since both of the printers (UK and USA) also support POD, a new, full file is sensible.

Change Log u20190215

  • You’ll never notice this, because you’ll only get this version, but I’m upgrading the cover to 12pt/300gsm instead of 10pt/250gsm. The heavy paper on the interior needs an appropriately stout exterior.
  • p.iii – changed the ampersand in Swords & Wizardry to a different font, because it looked stupid in PR Viking
  • p. vi – adjusted the image and text to bring an orphan line where it belonged. It’s a hard-knock life.
  • p. 11 – Removed some underlines that were a legacy of the paragraph style used in the Pack Animals table
  • p. 18 – the borders went MIA in the Lowland Encounters table. They’re back.
  • p. 30 – a colon was used instead of a period in a run-in title. Colonectomy performed, period.
  • p. 41 – Way too many titles in the map-as-art. Now just reads “Dire Straits,” which gives more room for Dire Wolves to eat the PCs. Talk about clean plate club.
  • p. 42 – changed “When Norðalfar Attack” to “When Goblins Attack” in the art, and fixed a find/replace artifact (Goblinoids–>Goblins) in the text. A goblin is something different in the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, so my faerie goblins got renamed to norðalfs, plural/generic norðalfar.
  • p. 45 – removed an underline in the table that didn’t need to be there.
  • p. 49 – changed “ore” to “more” because typo, dammit.
  • p. 50 – expanded the map to very nearly fill the entire page. It’s slightly offset to the left in the PDF, because in print there will be paper lost to gutter.
  • p. 52 – Added details of “Trap D,” which managed to go MIA for several versions of the book. Yay, poison gas!
  • p. 54 – also expanded the map. This page was the bad print error page, so it would have been fixed regardless
  • p. 56 – Italicized Muspelheim.
  • p. 60 – changed paragraph style on “Varieties——>” to make it match other section heads
  • p. 92 – Changed map title to just read Dire Straits
  • p. 93 – Changed “Norðalfar” to “Goblins”
  • p. 102 – fixed a few layout errors and emphasis mistakes in the One Page Grappling section
  • p. 103 – fixed the ampersand in Swords & Wizardry so it doesn’t look silly
  • Back Cover – there are no ready-to-play characters in Lost Hall 2.0, because Dragon Heresy, 5e, and S&W Characters are very quick and simple to make at Level 1-5. That needed to be removed.

That’s the list!

The moment I’ve been waiting for. I hope you have too. There’s good news and bad news.

The Bad News

Let’s start with the bad news, because other than a few things to adjust, the rest is just freakin’ great.

There are maybe three or four things that need fixin’:

  • One of the pages had a legit whoops. The printer must have run out of ink or something. I’m hoping that quality control would have caught that, ’cause dang.
  • The goblin warrens maps were left out of the document. That’s an issue, because I’m out of space. I have a few ideas. The maps as they are are quite large, and done in full-page mode anyway. I can make them bigger, overlapping the page borders, and that would do it. I hate to lose the Dragon Heresy teaser or any of the other info. I’ll probably do that.
  • One map is labeled “When Norðalfar Attack!” instead of “When Goblins Attack!” That’s a quick fix.
  • There might be typos or other errors, but I’ll do a read-through word-by word with the pages in hand tonight. It’s always easier when you can look at the pages.

And that’s all for errors. One legit printer muck-up, and the rest are really my problem.

The Good News

The book is going to look amazing. Let’s start with the cover, and see how it stacks up with other books. Oh . . . one thing before I go nuts pasting pictures. This is an unbound proof. So don’t look at images where pages show through on the cover and judge the binding. There’s isn’t binding yet. That makes it easier to inspect the quality of the complete page.

The Cover

The Interior

Hall of Judgment - 128 pages; Lost Hall 2.0 - 112 pages. That's THICK paper.
Hall of Judgment – 128 pages; Lost Hall 2.0 – 112 pages. That’s THICK paper.
Oops. Won't ship the book like this!
Oops. Won’t ship the book like this!

Final Word

So, there are a few things to fix. Once that’s done, though – these guys did a nice job, and I look forward to doing more work with them in the near future.

I think you’ll like the heft and feel of the book when you get it. The colors are nice, the cover and paper tangibly good quality, and it stacks up as a nice companion to the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.

I’ll read and correct errors tonight. Not entirely sure if they’ll want me to send over pages, or an entire file (no problem either way). After that, I suspect it will be a quick turn for printing, and then I’ll get shipping going.

Major milestone!

So, the files have been sent to the two printers: one in the UK, and one here in the USA. I made payment as well, and folks are talking about pre-press (a day or two) followed by perhaps three weeks of printing after proof approval, and that usually takes about a week. In both cases I’ve asked for hard-copy proofs, to check color and binding.
If that happens, I expect to have books ready to ship out by the first or second week in March, that means that by mid-March, the US and UK customers should have their books, and by the end of March or early April, everyone. Even the Aussie, I hope.
The details:
US Books: Preflight is today and tomorrow. Proofing is rapid but usually takes about a week. Then three weeks of printing. I should have books at my house by March 7, which means that I can pack ’em up and ship ’em out by the end of that weekend. Arrival in-hand March 13-22, depending on the USPS. Print copies will be about 9mm thick, printed on 100# matte paper.
International Books: Preflight is tonight. Proofing has to ship to me from the UK, but that has been quite fast in the past. I’ve tried to sneak the title and logos onto the spin, which is a bit thinner (about 6-6.5mm) due to slighly lighter weight paper stock for this printer (130gsm/85#). Assuming this printing looks as good as Hall of Judgment (no reason it should not!), and that they don’t reject my spine information, I’d expect the books to arrive at Kixto, my fulfillment partner in the UK, by the second week in march. From there, we have one going to Australia, one to Korea, and the rest either the UK or EU, so those should be fast. I’m still thinking late March or Early April. For the two folks that also ordered copies of Dragon Heresy in Hardback, I’ll send those separately.
Even so, it looks like the project will complete 2-3 months ahead of schedule.

It’s Happening

The pre-final PDF for the 2nd Edition of Lost Hall of Tyr has just been distributed to everyone who ordered Lost Hall in all of my Kickstarters. Please take a look! Check it out, read it, see if you can find any typos (I left at least one as a test . . . can you find it?)I’m going to give a week or so to get error reports in the file so that the version that goes to print is as perfect as we can make it.

What can you do?

There are several things I need you to do if you get the new version:
  • Check your name in the Kickstarter backer list. I tried to keep the surveys blazingly short this time, so I used other information to credit you as a backer. See if I got it right. Email me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com if I didn’t.
  • Check for typos. Please. My eyes blur over with too much staring at the screen.
  • Look for “oops, you forgot to convert that.” The 2nd edition of Lost Hall owes a lot to Hall of Judgment, which is Powered by GURPS. I think I got all of that converted back to Dragon Heresy . . . but since I’m so familiar with both systems, I might have missed a few.
  • Read it, comment on it, and review it. Ideally in public. We’re really not that far away from the big offset print run, and if you like the new version, please say so loudly and frequently.
  • Play it!! I can’t emphasize this enough, but the more it gets played, the better I’ll know what works (and I should repeat in the future), and what doesn’t.
  • Check for WTF moments in DCs. I’m pretty sure I got ’em right, but if there’s a TPK hidden in there or the thing’s a cakewalk . . . I kinda want to fix it.
  • Finally: Play it in 5e or Swords and Wizardry! It should be straight-forward, but if there’s a bit more conversion work that needs to be done, well, I’ve got a blank page at the end and I can do something, whether it’s a quick afterword or a more detailed conversion note.
  • Show it to your Favorite Local Game Store owners and buyers. A few retail purchases will get us to an even higher quality printing.

The Beginning of the End

The distribution of the pre-final PDF marks the beginning of the end of this campaign. I think we made a great book, and I’m thrilled how well Juan and Glynn delivered on their part of the tasks. Once we settle the PDF, I’ll send it to print. I expect a six to eight week turn-around if we go digital (as I expect), but if a few folks throw in for retail levels, or we get one or two shields . . . we’re there. That would push print receipt to the 12-16 week delivery zone, but we’ll ALL be happier with the result.Thank you so much for helping make this happen!
Oh . . . you don’t have it, but you want to?

It’s not too late to pre-order

Juan Ochoa has been my partner in crime on a lot of the work at Gaming Ballistic. He did some of the original images on the pre-visualization art for Dragon Heresy long  before the Kickstarter happened, and has contributed between “some” (Dungeon Grappling) and “a whole lot” (every other book) of art since, including the cover of the original Lost Hall, Hall of Judgment, and the update of the cover for the 2nd Edition of Lost Hall, the original version of which you’ve all seen. But now, the final cover image is in!
Here’s the first one:
Original Lost Hall 2e Cover Composition
Original Lost Hall 2e Cover Composition

He never really liked it though. The color balance was off, he didn’t like our spear-wielder’s face, and a few other things. We talked about it, and he said he didn’t like it enough that he didn’t want to look at it on the final product – he knew he could do better.

We chatted about the new version, and then . . . he went away.

And now he’s back, just in time to upload a new cover on this last day of the Backerkit phase. Good timing, that.

I like this one. I like the extra detail on the spear-wielder, the increased detail on the undead, and keeping fewer figures in the image.

I hope you like it too – this will be the one that goes to print.

Which reminds me: back to work for me!

We are less than $500 away from getting to a lay-flat, sewn-binding softcover book on glorious 105# (157gsm) matte paper. $1500 from getting it in hardcover. If you’re a retailer, there are some “buy two book-bundles” and “buy four book bundles” pre-discounted for resale. Ten four-book (4 each of Dragon Heresy and Lost Hall 2e) bundles get us the hardcover. Three or four get us the softcover. We are truly close.

Pre-Order Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) for the Dragon Heresy RPG

This morning I locked existing orders and charged cards for the Lost Hall of Tyr expanded/revised edition. There were a few that didn’t go through, and there are still six or seven folks that need to complete their surveys. Even so: if your card was charged, you should find an email with your digital downloads for your PDF files in your mailbox. I have one or two more files to send out: the map packs for those that got Hall of Judgment in digital form, which will be tonight. I’ll also prep the map packs for the NEW maps for Lost Hall 2, and everyone will get those . . . they’re done, while the final checks on the actual game PDF will be my task this weekend.

And so it begins.

If you still want to get in on Lost Hall of Tyr – which is native to Dragon Heresy, but can be run in straight-up Fifth Edition, or with Swords & Wizardry – it’s not too late! We are perhaps $450 in non-shipping pre-orders and add-ons from being able to upgrade to the offset print run, which will get still-heavier paper for the book, deliver a sewn and lay-flat binding, and print up enough copies to push the book into retail shelves to sit alongside of the Dragon Heresy core book.

Granted, that last one is mostly important for me, but the best way to see more Dragon Heresy product is to help people find it, play it, and talk about it!