Greetings from Thailand!

The big news is that, of course, Lost Hall of Tyr passed the  basic funding goal! Now it’s all about stretch goals.

Had a great night’s sleep last night, which if you’re familiar with the vagaries of international air travel, is from from a guarantee.

In addition to passing the basic funding goal (woo hoo!), I’ve got some updates on art progress

John B has reported he’s on schedule for delivery before the end of the Kickstarter for his piece, as has Roland W. That’s all of the pre-commissioned art thus far, but since the campaign has met it funding goal, I can look into starting up the remaining pieces. As things proceed, I will see how we are doing and look carefully at how much additional art the campaign can afford.

I also got to sit down over email with Todd, and I asked him to mock up the real cover, rather than what I did in five minutes with Photoshop’s Magic Wand tool. I suggested we incorporate “the sword” I use for the banners (I really like it) into the cover design, and he overachieved. I wasn’t sure how I’d have done it, but what he actually did really made me happy.

What? Stop talking and show? OK!

Front Cover
Front Cover

 

Back Cover and Teaser Text
Back Cover and Teaser Text

Feedback Wanted

One thing that backers of my prior Kickstarter – Dungeon Grappling – will tell you is that I’m pretty good about taking and acting on feedback from my contributors. You guys are sponsoring the work, after all, so it makes good sense to listen where possible.

So . . . if you think that the wording of the cover, or something about placement could be improved . . . make the suggestion! Worst case is a polite no, and best case for all is “that’s a fantastic idea!”

As always, please spread the word about the project where you can. I’m going on several podcasts – Geek Gab and the Delve Podcast – to talk about the project, and would love to do more.

Congratulations and Thanks!

We made funding at the basic level last night, sneaking over the wire while I was travelling between Minnesota and Thailand on business. I’m currently a bit bleary-eyed, but the trip was as smooth and fast as one could ask for. Four hours to Seattle, 12 hours to Korea, and five hours to Thailand. Then an overnight stay at the hotel at the airport, then three hours drive to Korat (Nakhon Rhatchasima) where our plant is located.

But a big thank you to the backers who have taken us this far.

Miles to go before I sleep

The next goal is important – enough backers and money to guarantee that we can get the thing done and printed not through the usual suspects. Right now, though, we’re really only talking about 50 copies of the print version, which might be a low enough number that I procure it through a third party anyway. We shall see!

The big stuff happens between $5000 to $8000, with more art and the Swords and Wizardry full conversion next on deck. Following that, we get into icing on the cake: inside cover art and other gritty/realistic illustrations by Roland Warzecha

The Days Ahead

I’m looking to go on a few podcasts in the near future to pitch the adventure and talk grappling monsters. I will also be doing a bit of a featurette on each of the artists that are working the project, highlighting their styles and showing the kind of thing that can happen for the custom commission tiers.

Once Again: Thanks!

But that’s all in the future. I’ll work on delivering you the best book I can. The more you guys talk it up, the better. Again: the invite for “if you will run or review it, I’ll get you a prelim copy” so long as you write up up before the campaign ends!

Josh Beckelhimer is an early backer of the project. He requested and received an early preview copy of the adventure, and reviewed it in detail at his website Fantastical Beckelhimer. I have reproduced the entire review below, but have also made some comments where appropriate to address some of his open questions. Thanks to Josh for the review!

A Review – Lost Hall of Tyr (Kickstarter Edition)

As I am writing this up Lost Hall of Tyr: A 5e Adventure (Dungeon Grappling support) just needs less than $400 to be funded. If you read my previous post you know that I am pretty excited about this project.

Gaming Ballistic: About $225 to go as of this post!

Also, Douglas Cole sent me a Review Copy for me to read through. And these are my spoiler free thoughts on it.

In this current state Lost Hall of Tyr is 52 pages (not including the cover and back cover).

  • Introduction/Background – 4 pages
  • Adventure – 19 pages
  • Wilderness Travel Rules – 3 pages
  • Bestiary – 16 pages
  • Quick Start: Dungeon Grappling – 2 pages
  • Preface/Legal Jargon/Table of Contents/Art
  • Placeholder Pages – the rest of the pages

First, and like my previous post, the layout is great. The coloring and the borders for the layout really have set the bar on what a 5th Edition adventure should look like. Yes, a thousand times better than WotC’s layouts for their adventures.

Gaming Ballistic: I expect a page of Kickstarter Backers, at least six pages of maps, a page of scenario flowchart, Table of Contents (no index) as a first pass as to extra pages beyond simple adventure content. If we start punching through stretch goals, the page count may increase.

Introduction/Background

This section gives a brief description of the setting and where the adventure will take place. And rumor has it there is a campaign setting in the works for where this adventure takes place.

Also, there is a brief story that sets up the adventure and the hook for the characters. There is also information on how to tie this adventure into your own setting. Though, there are two things I want to address:

  • 1. No where in the Introduction or the Preface does it state what level the characters should be and how many characters the adventure is designed for.
  • 2. There is a weapon mentioned in the introduction, “magical against all foes and as a +1 magical weapon against a creature type.” (I left out the type of weapon and creature type) But I don’t know if it is meant to be +1 against all foes and a +2 against the creature type or is it supposed to be treated as non-magical +0 against all foes except magical +1 against the creature type.

Gaming Ballistic: Fair cop on the scenario parameters; it was supposed to be printed on the back cover, which isn’t done yet. It’s designed around 4-6 characters of Level 3-6, and I’ll make sure that’s reiterated in the interior of the book.

For the sword, one of the neat things about 5e is that a weapon can be magical but provide no bonuses – there are several spells and power-ups that let mundane weapons strike foes as if they were magical, and this matters for creatures who have resistance or immunity to damage from non-magical weapons. So the sword is magical against just about anything. It gets a small bonus against a particular type of creature owing to how it was created. 

Adventure

*When reading through this the maps were not included just the placeholders for where they would be.*  

First, there is something that needs to be addressed before I continue on with this section. There is NO flavor text. As in, there is no blocked text that is dedicated to the GM to read to the players. Personally, this doesn’t bother me at all. This might be a turnoff for some but I think this also helps with adapting this adventure into whatever setting the GM is running.

I like the writing layout Douglas has done with this adventure. He has created four different categories that helps the GM with running the adventure.

  • Challenges – Describes the challenges that the PCs will have to overcome in this section. Whether it is NPCs or an obstacle that is their way.
  • Concealed – Describes some skill checks they may be needed to achieve a challenge. Also information that may be hidden from the PCs.
  • Alternatives – Describes some alternative ways to deal with the challenge in the section.
  • Rewards – Describes the rewards/treasure the PCs can find in this section. Some rewards are just being able to bypass the challenge.

Though, this adventure was written for 5th edition, there is enough information with this writing layout that the adventure could easily be converted to another system.

Wilderness Travel

This section of the book shouldn’t be treated as something optional. Surviving in the wilderness is essential to this adventure. This adventure is a fairly long trek and a challenge within itself. In this section there are all sorts of rules and information on how to survive in the wilderness. Such as, how much food/water the PCs should have, hunting/gathering, preserving food, weather and climate. Again, this shouldn’t be optional in this adventure.

Gaming Ballistic: I’m very glad that Josh likes the additional wilderness travel guidance. However, for groups that are more of the “let’s just kill some bad guys already!” variety, it’s quite possible to play without using these. In general, though, I think that being able to use the environment as a potentially deadly challenge adds some real flavor and spice to a scenario, and I’ve tried to make it more meaty with the addition of the section on Wilderness Travel.

Bestiary  

This section of the book describes all the NPCs that will be found in this adventure. There is a description for each NPC and their stat blocks. There are familiar monsters that most GMs should know but some of them have been modified to fit this campaign setting. Such as, the goblinoids are considered fae in this setting. There are a total of fifteen NPCs in the Bestiary.

Gaming Ballisitc: One fun note here is that the final PDF will make extensive use of hyperlinks for navigation. So when you see (for example) there are 18 (or 18,000) goblins, you’ll see it as “18 goblins will attack the party,” or the equivalent, with the (curently italicized) goblins taking you directly to the bestiary entry. There will also be return navigation, so you can hop back to the encounters that have the monster. There’s plenty of room for this in the layout, but of course it’ll have to wait for the final layout until we implement it.

Quick Start: Dungeon Grappling

This section of the book is also very important and shouldn’t be ignored or treated as optional. Douglas has created an awesome system when it comes to grappling. The preface of this adventure also describes the importance of this system. If you get this adventure and you plan on running it I highly recommend that you read through this quick start guide and know how Dungeon Grappling works and then show your players how it works. Some of the Challenges in this adventure use this system so it is important to know. Encourage your players to take advantage of this system. You can learn more about Dungeon Grappling here.

Gaming Ballistic: There’s no doubt I love me some grappling – especially when it’s the monsters doing the grappling. And eating. Or dragging you back to its lair. But while I think the grappling rules (“DnD grappling rules that don’t suck!”) are excellent and add a lot of dimensions to the scenario, they are optional. I mean, you should use them. And you should love them. But if you don’t, well . . . the scenario is still fully usable.

I didn’t have any art or the maps but from this Review Copy I could run this adventure now without any of the maps. And that is an important thing to me; being able to just use the text to run an adventure. I look forward to receiving both my PDF and Physical Copy after it is completed. There is still plenty of time to back this project. $7 for PDF backer level and $20 for PDF and Physical Copy backer level. Also, the more money this project receives the more that will be added to it!

Gaming Ballistic’s Final Word:

Thanks to Josh for writing this review of Lost Hall of Tyr. I’m glad my enthusiasm for the adventure comes through, and he’s correct that this is based on the campaign setting for my Dragon Heresy RPG, which is 400,000 words and roughly 790 pages of eventually-to-be-released goodness currently in editing with Ken Hite. 

For now, though – I hope that you enjoy the adventure, and spread the word so that we smash the funding goal and continue into the stretch goals!

(Duplicates Update #6)

Thus just in!

I just got the cover art in from Juan. Pretty awesome, so I put it into Todd’s cover mockup using the power of the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop. The real version will have non-fake text for the back blurb, as well as better fidelity in the text elements. Still, this is what the thing will look like!

We are only $275 from the basic funding goal! One more good day, or two or three typical ones, and we’ll hit the first, most important milestone: getting funded.

After that, it’s stretch goal time. The most important for me is hitting the $6,000 goal where I can start commissioning more internal art. Over the coming days, you’ll see previews from each artist, as well as some work-in progress.

Until then . . . spread the word! We’re nearly there!

Did you Play Lost Hall at the Grappling Smackdown at GenCon?

I know a few folks – maybe one or two – who played what was called then “The Tower of Justice” or “Grappling Smackdown” with me in the IGDN booth at GenCon this year.

Friday and Saturday mornings, 10am start time. Each day was 7-8 people, some who’d signed up, some who didn’t.

As the book that will be now titled Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn is closing in on its basic funding goal, I want to give you folks playtest credit. And a free copy.

So: email me! You have my card from the event. You can also hit me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com, or leave a comment to this post. Let me know which game you attended, what character you played, the name you wish to be credited with, and the most memorable thing that happened to you during the game.

Progress Update

We’re doing reasonably well . . . about 75% of the way there in the first 2 1/2 days of the campaign, and before a weekend. Hopefully that bodes well. We’re at $1900 of $2500 to fund, so that’s promising.  Lost Hall of Tyr is close to making the first hurdle!

Maps!

I thought I’d throw down a few glimpses of the work Day Roy (Bogie Maps) is doing to bring the encounter areas to life.

This area might be all bark and no bite . . . but I seriously doubt it.

And here’s an internal preview of the Lost Hall itself:

That room has seen better days. I mean, it’s still neater than my house if I take my eyes off my kids for an hour . . . actually, I think that door looks familiar.

And here’s a nice little place for a picnic. Or ambush.

 Six Maps. All this good.

The maps are wonderful, and portable. Most of them will make great encounter maps for any game.

The nice thing about them is them make me want to do even more with them. I’m strongly considering beefing up the Lower Hall especially. I have such tantalizing and seductive possibilities in my mind.

Things are progressing on the art front as well. While two of the images are just done, three more – the cover, and images by John and Roland, are in progress, and I expect them in a week or so. I’ll cover the artists in more detail in a bit.

Until then, thanks for the support thus far!

Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn: Kickstarter is now LIVE

Lost Hall started as a GenCon game called “The Grappling Smackdown.” It was my first GMing experience at a convention, and it was also a scenario designed to showcase monsters that grapple using the rules from my book Dungeon Grappling.

I ran it twice, and it was very successful. It also clearly had enough hooks in it to expand into a full adventure. So I did.

I talk about Dungeon Grappling, doing Kickstarters, and Lost Hall of Tyr on James Introcaso’s Table Top Babble 040 – SciFi and Kickstarter Advice.

The module is set in a culture and realm that uses the mythology and legends of the Asgardians, and the Nordic/viking culture, as a basis. It include, of course, advice on how to drop it into any campaign and setting, so long as the journey and quest takes the party into the mountains and wilderness, in search of an object or goal that is valuable because of its history and contents, but not powerful by itself.

The book contains:

Preface. The preface introduces the adventure as having started life as a 2-hr demonstration scenario run at GenCon that introduced two groups to the alternate grappling rules in Dungeon Grappling. Fifteen players, two sessions, great fun. It was then expanded into the volume being kickstarted.

Introduction. The local geography and the events leading to the quest to rediscover the Dómstóllinn, the Hall of Judgment, are laid out with enough background to drive the adventure if running Lost Hall of Tyr as a stand-alone demonstration. The introduction also provides some inspiration to use the adventure in other campaigns, settings, locations, or even as part of a mega-dungeon!

Lost Hall of Tyr. The core scenario. It includes a flowchart so that the GM can see how the different encounter areas connect, and then 20 adventure segments – a journey, a riddle, a combat encounter, or a physical feat. Each encounter will include Challenges, telling the GM what must be overcome, Concealed information that the players don’t know initially, Alternatives that talk about ways to short-circuit, bypass, or otherwise not just Leroy Jenkins one’s way through a challenge, and Rewards, where appropriate. Ransom encounter tables, encounter map images, and evocative artwork paint the story of the challenges faced.

Wilderness Travel. Travelling overland, especially carrying an adventurer’s usual load of gear, is hard work. This short chapter discusses ways to make that work dramatic and fun, including guidance for food, water, hunting, preserving meat, and rules for cold weather and climate. Not all challenges have talons and teeth.

Bestiary. Each monster that is listed in the scenario is given statistics, including a quick-reference chart for grappling, as well as statistics compatible with the Dungeon Grappling rules.

Dungeon Grappling Quick-Start. Even if you don’t have the book, you can still use the rules. Two pages of grappling the way it should be: fast, fun, and well-integrated with the Fifth Edition basic rules mechanics.

All together, this is a complete adventure that can be run on its own or dropped into an existing campaign.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: You do not need to have, use, or even like Dungeon Grappling to use this adventure.

You need not entirely buy in to the Viking-ish, pseudo-Norse setting material that serves as background.

I mean, you should love Dungeon Grappling, as a great set of grappling rules that don’t suck. And Woden will cast his unflinching eye on you with displeasure if you dis the setting. But, sigh . . . such things are not required.

I did, however, condense the Dungeon Grappling mechanics into a two-page quick-start that accurately represents how I both taught and ran the game at GenCon. You can attack to grapple, defend from grapples, and even cause injury by grappling, at the very least. Just the basics. But in Indianapolis, that was enough.

Each encounter has monsters that might use grappling against you or be grappled more effectively than they are struck. Well, except for a few where that’s not true, because you have to keep everyone guessing.

It makes for a really different kind of game, in a good way.

This is my second kickstarter. It’s probably a bit better organized than before, and definitely it’s farther along in terms of investment: I have more faith in myself and my ability to deliver a product.

  • Print will be an option right out of the gate, and the better the Kickstarter does, the better the printed book will be
  • The “cool cover” is not an option that comes around last; I commissioned it already, and Juan Ochoa is busy at work on it
  • I’ve already got encounter maps, by Dan Roy of Bogie Maps, being created. These will also come as separate files for dragging into a VTT
  • Oh, of course the entire thing is written, edited by renowned industry pro and multiple ENnie Winner John Adamus (Thanks to Ken Hite for steering me his way!), and Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games is completely owning the layout and graphic design, telling me when things are good, and when I just need to shut up and let him work.

So, is there anything not done? Well, sure. I’ve commissioned some preliminary art, and you’ll see that in the first two weeks of updates. And if it just passes the first goal, I’ll be able to populate the existing art spaces.

But there’s a bunch more art that could be there, and with a moderate achievement in stretch goals (roughly what Dungeon Grappling raised, actually), more art will be added.

Also: I’ve got a special guest star, so to speak. Roland Warzecha, of Dimicator, is perhaps one of the finest Sword-and-Buckler Western Martial Arts instructors and fighters in the world. He’s also an amazing illustrator. We got to know each other through Asfolk, the Viking Martial Arts studio I joined (and where I’m now an assistant instructor) researching Dragon Heresy. He’s agreed to a commission for at least one piece for the project, and I sincerely hope it does well enough to add a few more.

But really, that’s it. I could ship the thing on Monday and the adventure would be playable, while the book would be very attractive (if somewhat incomplete) . . . but that’s not how we do things around here.

So, I hope you help me bring Lost Hall of Tyr to life, as you helped me bring Dungeon Grappling to life.

I’ve got what I need, I think.

The video is complete. The pitch looks OK to me and some of my eyes-on folks.

But don’t take my word for it. Check it out in preview mode.

Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn by Gaming Ballistic, LLC

(The title link is to the preview; the image is just the video)

A 52 to 64 page adventure for 5e (and S&W at least, if it does well) with support for Dungeon Grappling.

Look for it Real Soon Now on Kickstarter.

Last week I sat down with James Introcaso again, and spoke for more than an hour on grappling, Dungeon Grappling, how to publish a game, and how I approach running a Kickstarter, especially as a newbie.

It was a fun interview, and James is a great interlocutor.

Check it out!

TableTop Babble – 040 – 5e Sci Fi and Kickstarter Advice

I’ve been talking about this for a while now, but it’s pretty much locked in: the Kickstarter for Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn will launch in the middle of next week.

Lost Hall of Tyr: The GenCon Experience

Lost Hall started as a GenCon game called “The Grappling Smackdown.” It was my first GMing experience at a convention, and it was also a scenario designed to showcase monsters that grapple using the rules from my book Dungeon Grappling.

I ran it twice, and it was very successful. It also clearly had enough hooks in it to expand into a full adventure. So I did.

The module is set in a Norse-based culture and land, and uses the mythology and legends of the Asgardians, and the nordic/viking culture, as a basis. It include, of course, advice on how to drop it into any campaign and setting, so long as the journey and quest takes the party into the mountains and wilderness, in search of an object or goal that is valuable because of its history and contents, but not powerful by itself.

The book contains:

Preface. The preface introduces the adventure as having started life as a 2-hr demonstration scenario run at GenCon that introduced two groups to the alternate grappling rules in Dungeon Grappling. Fifteen players, two sessions, great fun. It was then expanded into the volume being kickstarted.

Introduction. The local geography and the events leading to the quest to rediscover the Dómstóllinn, the Hall of Judgment, are laid out with enough background to drive the adventure if running Lost Hall of Tyr as a stand-alone demonstration. The introduction also provides some inspiration to use the adventure in other campaigns, settings, locations, or even as part of a mega-dungeon!

Lost Hall of Tyr. The core scenario. It includes a flowchart so that the GM can see how the different encounter areas connect, and then 20 adventure segments – a journey, a riddle, a combat encounter, or a physical feat. Each encounter will include Challenges, telling the GM what must be overcome, Concealed information that the players don’t know initially, Alternatives that talk about ways to short-circuit, bypass, or otherwise not just Leroy Jenkins one’s way through a challenge, and Rewards, where appropriate. Ransom encounter tables, encounter map images, and evocative artwork paint the story of the challenges faced.

Wilderness Travel. Travelling overland, especially carrying an adventurer’s usual load of gear, is hard work. This short chapter discusses ways to make that work dramatic and fun, including guidance for food, water, hunting, preserving meat, and rules for cold weather and climate. Not all challenges have talons and teeth.

Bestiary. Each monster that is listed in the scenario is given statistics, including a quick-reference chart for grappling, as well as statistics compatible with the Dungeon Grappling rules.

Dungeon Grappling Quick-Start. Even if you don’t have the book, you can still use the rules. Two pages of grappling the way it should be: fast, fun, and well-integrated with the Fifth Edition basic rules mechanics.

All together, this is a complete adventure that can be run on its own or dropped into an existing campaign.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: You do not need to have, use, or even like Dungeon Grappling to use this adventure.

You need not entirely buy in to the Viking-ish, pseudo-Norse setting material that serves as background.

I mean, you should love Dungeon Grappling, as a great set of grappling rules that don’t suck. And Woden will cast his unflinching eye on you with displeasure if you dis the setting. But, sigh . . . such things are not required.

I did, however, condense the Dungeon Grappling mechanics into a two-page quick-start that accurately represents how I both taught and ran the game at GenCon. You can attack to grapple, defend from grapples, and even cause injury by grappling, at the very least. Just the basics. But in Indianapolis, that was enough.

Each encounter has monsters that might use grappling against you or be grappled more effectively than they are struck. Well, except for a few where that’s not true, because you have to keep everyone guessing.

It makes for a really different kind of game, in a good way.

This is my second kickstarter. It’s probably a bit better organized than before, and definitely it’s farther along in terms of investment: I have more faith in myself and my ability to deliver a product.

  • Print will be an option right out of the gate, and the better the Kickstarter does, the better the printed book will be
  • The “cool cover” is not an option that comes around last; I commissioned it already, and Juan Ochoa is busy at work on it
  • I’ve already got encounter maps, by Dan Roy of Bogie Maps, being created. These will also come as separate files for dragging into a VTT
  • Oh, of course the entire thing is written, edited by renowned industry pro and multiple ENnie Winner John Adamus (Thanks to Ken Hite for steering me his way!), and Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games is completely owning the layout and graphic design, telling me when things are good, and when I just need to shut up and let him work.

So, is there anything not done? Well, sure. I’ve commissioned some preliminary art, and you’ll see that in the first two weeks of updates. And if it just passes the first goal, I’ll be able to populate the existing art spaces.

But there’s a bunch more art that could be there, and with a moderate achievement in stretch goals (roughly what Dungeon Grappling raised, actually), more art will be added.

Also: I’ve got a special guest star, so to speak. Roland Warzecha, of Dimicator, is perhaps one of the finest Sword-and-Buckler Western Martial Arts instructors and fighters in the world. He’s also an amazing illustrator. We got to know each other through Asfolk, the Viking Martial Arts studio I joined (and where I’m now an assistant instructor) researching Dragon Heresy. He’s agreed to a commission for at least one piece for the project, and I sincerely hope it does well enough to add a few more.

But really, that’s it. I could ship the thing on Monday and the adventure would be playable, while the book would be very attractive (if somewhat incomplete) . . . but that’s not how we do things around here.

So, I hope you help me bring this one to life, as you helped me bring Dungeon Grappling to life. I’m going to give Monday October 2 a wide berth, as there’s a few other Kickstarters launching that day, such as Mentzer’s new setting. Plus, I do still have to finish that pesky Kickstarter video. I’ll be storyboarding it tonight, and recording it over the next two days. But somewhere on Tuesday or Wednesday, this project will go live, and I would truly appreciate both your support financially, as well as the all-important shares and endorsements on social media.

Until then: game on!