We hit $10,000!

I mean, the trajectory and usual Kickstarter behavior (where your last two days are about 60% of the first two days) suggested this anyway, but still, seeing it is astounding. We also surpassed the total number of backers for Dragon Heresy, my full 288-page RPG, which was 328 during the campaign itself, plus a few pre-orders. We’re at 334 as I write this, which means no matter what, we’ve passed both.

The next “can we get there” milestone is to pass Dragon Heresy in terms of funds raised, which is a higher challenge. Our first two days were astounding: $6566 raised! Then we kept up at a $440 per day rate for the next 6 days, and since then, the pledge rate has leveled to $200 per day. The final two days can be up to 70% of the first two . . . or they can be “just another day.”

That means that at the low end, the next 13 days of the campaign could bring in another $2,500 and 85 people . . . which is awesome no matter what. Or they could bring in another $7,300. Who knows! The key will be getting the word out, and that depends on you more than me.

In any case, the campaign has already been very successful, and each day makes it more so.

Printing and Shipping

I had a question come up on the SJG Forums, and I thought I’d open the kimono a bit more about where we are, and where we might go.

I have four vendors I use for printing. DriveThruRPG, Publisher’s Graphics, a UK company that does short-run, high-quality digital print (Call it Company C), and a Hong Kong company that only deals in 1000+ quantities (call them Company D).

DriveThru and PubGraphics both have online quote generators open to all. DriveThru uses Lightning Source for printing, which has a UK branch; this means “not the USA” uses Royal Mail for shipping, which is much less expensive to y’all. A full 30% of backers to this project fall into that category (double the usual!) so this is a real consideration; the lowest cost to get a package out of the US to London by USPS is about $25. Royal Mail does that for $5-6.

But printing! The basic factor here is the quality and cost per book. I find PubGraphics quality superior to DriveThru. The paper is a bit better, the binding MUCH better, and the color more vivid. They’re also roughly 2/3 the price per book, but charge a setup fee. In short, somewhere between “I order 8” and “I order 32,” it’s cheaper to order from PubGraphics even including the ridiculous shipping cost to get it out of the USA.

But I will be ordering a minimum of 200 books, because you guys are great.

Let’s hit the other extreme. I can’t order fewer than 1,000 books from Company D. So that’s a dollar amount threshold, full stop. That, however, means that I will have something like 700 books sitting in my house. If I can sell them? FANTASTIC. That’s extra revenue, and the cost per book easily supports a distribution model. That’s an additional $7,000 in revenue (with associated licensing fees to SJGames!) over time, though not front-loaded like the Kickstarter.

In the middle, between 345 orders and about 720 orders, we have Company C. Their stuff is going to arrive with much thicker paper (140gsm vs 105gsm; 93# paper vs 70# for us Americans) and still be perfect bound like DriveThru and PubGraphics. Originating in the UK means that the costs for international shipping are lower, though I will need to find a good partner to split off 30% of the orders and get them to international folks.

So where are we for printing? We’re just at the cusp of kicking over into the wide territory where Company C wins the cost/quality battle. If I wind up ordering about 50% more books than actual print backers, then once we hit 230 print backers, we upgrade to the thicker paper. At 475-480 print backers, we get the sewn binding.

I’m working now to find a good partner for this in the UK. If you know of one (a game store that also fulfills international orders at a reasonable cost, perhaps), please let me know.

Nerdarchy!

I was on Nerdarchy on Friday, and we had a good conversation. There was a lot of stuff on shields and D&D, because that’s the crowd. I tried to keep the conversation at least mildly focused on Powered by GURPS and the DFRPG, though!

Progress

Writing continues, as does map creation. I just did a quick layout trial, and the current text – with no maps or art of any sort – runs over 75 pages. Add on the “Thegn of Your Own” backers, five full-page maps, six half-page encounter maps and we’re at 88 pages with zero artwork. Given I like to put something every spread or two, if we budget a quarter-page of art every four pages you’re dealing with another five or six pages of art.

And there’s a lot of dungeon and wilderness encounters and lions, tigers, and bears, oh my yet to do. (No tigers, actually. But lions and bears play prominent roles, so there is that). “Town” itself is 18 pages long, which makes for a nice, robust starting place with lots of things to do, and good embedded culture and entry points for adventurers to explore.

So we’re definitely trending to the 96 pages or more endpoint, which is fun for a book that started at 64.

Today is a “write all day” budget, so by day’s end, hopefully I’ll have most of the prose done. That would mean the big job is converting to Powered by GURPS numbers and stats. That’s a challenge, but it’s a direct one.

So I’m going to get to it. In the meantime, a bit of “yay, team!” on social media would not go amiss.

Thanks!

The full-color backer reward for the PDF for the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set was distributed over the weekend. Pushing it out on June 17 puts it in about six weeks (44 days, in fact) ahead of the promised date. Am I proud of that?

Yes. Yes I am.

But I’m not done until the books are in your hands (and mine!).

Print Production

Actual pages from the UK printer that will likely be doing the color print books, unless we hit the big goal at $16KSo, I set the final print files to render this morning, a process which takes about an hour or so to complete even on my Ryzen 2700X/GeForce 1070 setup. (I think I need more RAM and an NVMe SSD instead of my current one if I’m going to make more books like this).

It’s a holiday in Hong Kong, so taking the extra day and sleeping on it let me make a few corrections to the text that slipped through (I got some advice on my faux-Icelandic from an actual Icelander, including the fact that what I thought was “leg-lizard” – fiðrildi and fiðrildar – actually translates to “butterfly.”

Curse you, Google Translate!

So they’re going to be renamed göngeðla, (GOYNG-edthla) which is “tunnel lizard.” Which is what they are, so there we go. I also added the weight for deer (’cause they’re tasty, tasty mobile meat) and a few bits of other minor stuff.

I’ll spool out an update in a week or so for the PDF, probably about the same time I upload the PDF to my website and DriveThru.

Schedule Non-Update

Non-update? Well, I’m on schedule, so there’s not much to change.

Tonight at about 6pm CST I will upload a roughly 200MB file to the printer’s FTP server. They will “pre-flight” the document (which I already did in InDesign) and hopefully tell me that all my settings were correct.

And if things go wrong? if we have some errors on p. 128?

It’s not too late. I can send single pages all the way through the proofing process. I, of course, hope to not have to do this.

Even so, it will be 4-6 weeks for proofing and setup and then printing. Somewhere in that 5th-6th week (end of July) the printing will be done and they go “on the boat” (literally, in this case) and will make the transit to the USA. My understanding is that there’s a GPS tracker on said ship, so monday updates will feature a nifty screenshot of “where are your games right now?”

As noted, a smaller box will get shipped, also by ocean freight, to Korea, where they’ll be delivered to a fulfillment partner who does this sort of thing as a favor to indie gamers. There are maybe 30-50 books (so far!) that will go this route.

So another six to eight weeks after THAT, they’ll have arrived on your doorsteps.

As always, I will endeavor to exercise Project Management Fu to pull this in if possible, and mitigate delays where it’s not.

Pre-Order if You Want This to Not-the-USA

As reviews and interest come in, you might think to yourself “Where can I get this new thing?”

Right now, pre-orders are being hosted on Backerkit. Real Soon now, that will transition to my own website, as well as other places.

I will say this: if you’re not from the USA, a pre-order is the very best way to get the hardback. In 4-6 weeks, the printing process will be completed, and books will roll out onto the container ship.

But another, smaller set of boxes will ship to a contact in Korea, who will then put them in the mail to their final not-the-USA destinations from there. Shipping will be faster and much, much less than within the USA.

So if you’re interested in the 288-page, 128gsm paper, sewn-binding, full-color, round back hardcover book (with spot finish!) that will hopefully have production values worthy of Symbaroum (the touchstone I’m trying to approximate for quality) please pre-order your hardcover now!

Hall of Judgment

I would do myself a disservice if I didn’t mention that I’ve got another project launching tomorrow. This is the first-every third-party license for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS) from Steve Jackson Games, and I got it.

It launches tomorrow, and if you’re also a GURPS player, you’ll want to check it out.

More from Dragon Heresy?

Well, yeah.

I’ve got two self-written mini- or micro-settings in the hopper for Level 1-5 support. There are a lot of Level 1-5 options for character classes, races, and of course Feats that didn’t make the cut that I will likely put into a chargen expansion volume. A fellow gamer and writer wants to do an adventure in my setting, with my game, and I’m thrilled about that.

I’ll also finally be standing up a website dedicated to Dragon Heresy in the next few weeks as well.

OK. That’s it for Monday. Hope you enjoy the game!

Gaming Ballistic is THRILLED to be the first third-party vendor to be granted a license to produce material for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS) from Steve Jackson Games.

This product directly supports the excellent DFRPG Boxed Set. It provides a mini-setting and adventure, in full color, bookmarked and layered for the PDF, and with a print copy available for backers who wish a high-quality tangible reward.

Below is a preview of the Kickstarter, which will launch at 10am CST on Tuesday, June 19.

The Kickstarter Pitch

Continue reading “Hall of Judgment – a Dungeon Fantasy RPG Supplement (Kickstarter Preview)”

So here we are. The last week before the interior files get submitted.

What did we do, and what does that mean?

Production Process

We’re really down to two basic tasks at this point: art insertion and proofing.

Proofing continues. It’s a big document and we keep finding things. Most are small. Some are annoying. Much like Pokemon, I’d like to catch ’em all.

I need to regenerate the spells index and the monsters index, which requires saving a new file and doing a “local” index, then copy/pasting that into the document. It’s no big deal, and right before the files get exported at full resolution for printing, I’ll regenerate both the Table of Contents and the Index one last time.

The art is the last thing. I’m down to the last few pieces and these are easily accomplished by a responsive team (see prior gushing update).

The COVER is the farthest along. I decided that dangit, I want round-back rather than square back (think ACKS or Symbaroum rather than Shadows of Esteren, GURPS books, or the DnD hardcovers), and I had to regenerate the cover to fit the new template. Then the spot-finish files. That didn’t take long, and the printing company is looking at them today and should tell me “yeah, these are good” tomorrow.

The hyperlinking is done. The active ToC is done.

I made a few usability changes to the style, so conditions are now bolded as terms of art. So (as an example), two creatures might have each other grappled, but one is restrained, while the other is only grabbed. Bold for game-mechanics, plain-text for plan-language use.

PDF Rewards Distribution

Net/Net: I plan on spooling out the PDF for final reward distribution this coming weekend. That means next week (June 18-22) your PDFs will be sent out, which if I can get that done on Monday, will mean PDF is 6 weeks ahead of schedule.

This also means I’ll do a brief clean-up on Lost Hall of Tyr and Dungeon Grappling PDFs for those that ordered them, and get all of the PDF rewards out next week. I might distribute these through DriveThruRPG – at-cost downloads for PDFs are really easy, and the updating and archiving of DriveThruRPG products is just easier and better than backerkit.

Printing Timeline

As noted before, it’s a 12-week process by design, plus another 2 weeks for in-the-USA shipping. So if the official “go time” for the printer is Monday June 18, we’re on track for all backers to have their book the last week in September (by Sept 24). We’ll see if we can hold to that schedule or beat it; there are 2-3 weeks of potential pull-in, and of course infinite possibilities for delays.

Still: I think you’ll get the books in September rather than October, so that meets my goals of “on or before the promised date.”

Hall of Judgment for Dungeon Fantasy RPG

If you like Lost Hall of Tyr and are also a fan of Steve Jackson Games’ Dungeon Fantasy RPG (Powered by GURPS), then you might also like to know that some time ago, I was granted a license to convert Lost Hall to the DFRPG system.

This is the first license of its kind for the DFRPG. I am pleased and humbled.

That being said, Lost Hall could use some improvement. It is a fairly linear convention scenario designed to show off the Dungeon Grappling system for 5e and OSR games. When played as a one-shot or at a convention, it works beautifully for that purpose.

However, putting it into a living campaign it suffers a bit. Too many constraints.

Well, Hall of Judgment will fix that.

First, I’m updating the interior look a bit to clearly differentiate it from Lost Hall.

Second, there will be a lot more “agency” in the game, with Isfjall (in DFRPG parlance, “Town”) getting a more detailed treatment modeled after the information presented in Sean Punch’s wonderful “Caverntown” mini-setting.

There will be a new map, courtesy of The Midderlands’ Glynn Seal, that will feature both GM and Player-centric views.

There will be no fewer than three new “mini-dungeons” to explore, to allow some things hinted at in the Lost Hall of Tyr version to bear full fruit in Hall of Judgment.

Monsters will be updated to DFRPG standard, with intent to not duplicate existing creatures. Pre-gen characters will also be provided, likely 6-8 choices.

The Kickstarter for this version of the product is set to launch June 19 (next week!), and once the upgrades are done, I will back-convert the new edition of the scenario to Dragon Heresy. If you got Lost Hall of Tyr as an add-on to the Dragon Heresy KS, you’ll get a free copy of the new updated Dragon Heresy PDF if you back the new Kickstarter, and and discounted copy of the Dragon Heresy PDF even if you don’t back it.

I’d appreciate it if you backed it, though.

Future Dragon Heresy Plans

I’m not even remotely done with Dragon Heresy.

I have no fewer than four concepts on the drawing board.

The mini-setting tentatively called The Citadel at Northwatch was given some visibility on the Roles to Astonish Twitch stream. It’s a solid adventure with several connecting parts, playable as a sandbox, that is designed for beginning adventurers. It will likely fall between 16-48 pages, ideally 24-32.

A much larger setting project called The Hunted Lands will cover many interacting things going on in this very dangerous area.

A To-Be-Named third-party scenario, again as a mini-setting, will look at an area closer to the coast.

Finally, a player character expansion with more backgrounds, classes, and races is on the docket to fill out level 1-5 of all thing things I wanted to put in the book but couldn’t fit.

That’s just what I’m working on right now. There’s lots more in me noodle.

Thanks for coming with me this far, and I look forward to giving you your PDF rewards next week!

I’ll send one of these out weekly on Monday. This will keep people informed but not become spam. So welcome to the first Monday Progress Update. Eventually this will include progress on other products as well.

Location Surveys for Shipping

We’ve got just shy of half the folks who have answered the location survey, which isn’t bad at all. The purpose of this three-question survey is to figure out the best way to get your books to you.

International shipping is a hot mess, and always has been. In all probability I’m going to be printing in the UK, Latvia, Korea, or China . . . all of which offer low/lower-cost shipping to “rest of world.”

My intent is to use the surveys to ask these vendors to hold back a box or two of books from the print run. Then either ship them themselves direct to you guys or to send them to a third party who will individually mail them out for me. That should save quite a bit of money on that.

So: please fill out the survey! There are only three questions; it should take you less than five minutes. Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Monday Progress Update”

Sean Punch, also known as Dr. Kromm, works for Steve Jackson Games. He joins Geek Gab’s Game Night (during the day!) along with me (Douglas Cole) to talk about Dungeon Fantasy RPG and Cole’s new adventure for the setting, Hall of Judgment!

I was on a lot of podcasts this week. All different. Our discussion with Eric F on “martial arts in old-school games” was a different type of discussion than the “get deep into the mechanical weeds” with Chris S. Matt and David were both very interested in specifics on shields, while the second part of my discussion with Derek was about getting into, and staying into, the game design space.

A friend of mine told me that he was impressed I managed to cover substantially the same general territory with enough differences to make each podcast worth listening to without being repetitive.

Of course, that has a lot to do with my hosts . . .

Podcast Palooza

Each of these is pretty worth listening to, even if I say so myself.

First, I was on The Established Facts with Derek Knutsen-Frey, whom I’ve gotten to know through the IGDN. We had a long chat divided in two parts: a bunch on Dragon Heresy, and then 45 minutes on game publishing as a business.

The always-awesome James Introcaso hosted me for a while on Table Top Babble, and we mostly talked about Dragon Heresy

Chris Sniezak and I got deep into the depths of the game mechanics

Jason Hobbs had me and Eric Farmer on at the same time, and our take was more broad. Can you do “martial arts” in Old-School systems? What does that even mean?

Matt Finch and I had a great chat, and he was absolutely enthusiastic about the materials, construction, and use of period weaponry, and egged me on effectively.

Finally, I was on with Nerdarchy Dave for a live discussion and chat, and I had a great time talking with him and taking questions

Derek Knutsen-Frey and I chatted a lot about Dragon Heresy in a prior interview. It was a great chat. We also spent another hour (ish) talking about the business of game design. Even if I do say so myself, it’s a very good discussion.

EPISODE 171 – DOUGLAS COLE DRAGON HERESY PART 2

Other links:

RPG Development Costs

Economizing on RPG Development Costs

This week’s GURPSDay is brought to you by Tyr, God of Justice, War, and Law. Why? Not to too my own horn, but I have been granted a license to convert my Norse-based adventure Lost Hall of Tyr into Hall of Judgmentan adventure for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Read more about that below.

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic. This has been a big week for me. My modified Fifth Edition Kickstarter for the Dragon Heresy RPG – the same setting that Lost Hall/Hall of Judgment is set in – went live and funded on Day 2. And of course, the big news is the licensure to me, a third party publisher, of the DFRPG rules. Big things are movin’ in the world of GURPS and Powered by GURPS.

Thursday is GURPSDay, and here's the blog roll for the week ending April 5 2018We’re currently drawing content from 98 blogs. We are so very, very close to having 100 GURPS blogs.

We still need your help. And 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.

Final Note: Moe Lane, Patrick Burroughs, and Merlin Avery: your blogs are not pulling. Call the office.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Mar 30, 2018 – Apr 5, 2018”

 

The keys to the lost hall have been found . . .

Deep in the glacial peaks northwest of Isfjall, past the northwest border of the realm, a band of adventurers is deceived and nearly destroyed by a powerful Alfar sorceress as they pursue raiding hobgoblins. Through bravery and sacrifice, they deny her possession of a lost holy relic. The Tiwstakn: key to finding the legendary Lost Hall of Judgment.

Hall of Judgment is an adventure scenario designed for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game. Inside this PDF, you will find:
  • A brief introduction to the town of Isfjall in the barbarian north, and its surrounding territory
  • Advice on modifying the scenario for other settings
  • Rules for wilderness survival
  • Dungeon Fantasy Grappling™ Quick-Start
  • A bestiary containing every creature encountered in the adventure
Survive the journey. Vanquish your foes. Rediscover the lost hall. Claim your reward.
The Hall of Judgment opens August 2018.

— Douglas Cole