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!

 

We’re coming down to the end now. This Friday, on Jan 25, the Backerkit phase for Lost Hall of Tyr (updated and expanded!) will end. What does that mean?

1) I will lock all orders currently placed, and start the process of charging cards.

2) For those folks whose cards successfully go through, I will immediately send out the electronic copies of all existing files: Dragon Heresy, Dungeon Grappling, and Hall of Judgment PDFs

3) I will get to work finalizing the last stages of the 2nd Edition of Lost Hall of Tyr, which mostly involves calculating experience point totals for encounters, a bit more DC conversion, and writing conversion guidelines and some flowcharts to help with Dragon Heresy stuff.

Then I’ll send out the pre-final PDF, and give y’all some time to look at it and comment on any typos and whatnot. When those are fixed, I’ll update, send out the final PDF, upload that same new PDF to DriveThru for sale, and place the print order.

At this time – though we’re only about $500 shy of the $6,000 offset goal – it appears that the print copies will be done by short-run digital printing. It’ll be a nice run, so no worries.

There are only ten people who haven’t yet filled out their survey, and maybe eight or nine of those have physical product coming, so I must have your information to get you your books.

So if you’re going to do add-ons or get one of those sweet shields, now is the time. If you’re not getting anything else . . . now is still the time. If you want to place a pre-order, it’s not too late!

Thanks! I look forward to finishing up this project for you and getting on to what is shaping up to be an amazingly busy 2019.

Douglas

Juan’s been busy with life, but we reconnected, and his comment was “Well, I hated the composition of my first cover, so I’m doing it over.” So he sent me a Lost Hall of Tyr 2nd Edition new cover WIP!

Here’s the new composition as it stands.

We should be seeing a final full-color version on Friday!

If it strikes your fancy, pre-order it on Backerkit! You’ll have it before June . . . maybe sooner.

 

Survey Status

The Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) Kickstarter campaign is in the Backerkit phase. You guys have done great for the surveys . . . and have been generous with the add-ons, which I appreciate. We’re over 4/5 – 82% to be precise – complete. There are 24 people who have not filled out their surveys, but of those, 17 have hard-copy material for which I need an address, so if you have already ordered, or would like to order, physical goods . . . I need a shipping address. We are also only 20 new orders from achieving the offset print run stretch goal . . . so we’re very, very close.

Funding Status

Those of you that have backed my projects before know I’m transparent in terms of where the money’s going. You backed me, you get the straight dope on funding flow. In this case, after Kickstarter fees, we brought in $3,675 from that part of the campaign. Backerkit has brought in about $940 in not-shipping fees, for a total of $4615 to date that can be applied towards the dual goals of the project: the maps, and the print run.

The offset print run and maps together require $5,275, so we’re about $660 shy of the goal.

Even as-is, the digital short-run printing with CPI in the UK will produce up to 400 books if I choose. In distribution, these won’t be self-sustaining at the cost-to-produce as they would with the offset run: That’s OK (It’s not ideal, but it’s OK). No matter what, there’s Dragon Heresy support out there, and more on the way.

The key to victory here is simple: 20 pre-orders of PDF and Print.

Schedule

Glynn has already finished five of seven maps. I gave a preview of what they’ll look like a few days ago, but I like seeing it so here it is again:

He’s done something fun with the entrance to the Hall itself, which is to draw the outside and inside lower hall as a single map, split into two halves. This will allow a notional battle to rage between the two seamlessly, which was in the original adventure but not really reflected on the maps.

That means barring Real Life, the maps should be done and ready by week’s end. That will let me start finalizing the PDF. I’ve got a few conversion notes to put in, some stats and conversion notes for Swords & Wizardry to add, and an error check to do. Hopefully that will all be complete within the month of January; then we’ll get a preliminary PDF out so folks can look for errors and typos that always slip in.

Basically, I’m on schedule. The same schedule I posted originally in the Kickstarter campaign. This isn’t an accident: it’ll be the fifth Kickstarter that I’ve run that will be on time or ahead of schedule (that is, all of them). If we hit the offset run, expect your print copies in June (or before). If we don’t, you should get them 4-6 weeks earlier.

Don’t forget those surveys if you’re doing physical product! And as always, a little word of mouth (of Facebook? Of Twitter?) goes a long way. We’re about two dozen print pre-orders, or 10 “Starter Kit” with a copy of Dragon Heresy included, from the stretch goal that will both improve the book (thicker, heavier paper, lay-flat sewn binding) and get it out there in retail stores next to the core book.

If you have questions, you know Where to find Gaming Ballistic on the Internet!

Survey Status

As of this morning, about 2/3 of folks have filled out their surveys for the Backerkit phase of Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition). Nice work, y’all.

I did a bit of checking, and there are plenty of folks with physical product who haven’t completed their surveys – not surprising given the relatively low fraction of folks that went digital-rewards-only. If you can work that in today that will help.

On the flip side, we’re about $1,100 away from the offset print run stretch goal, though about 50% of that is related to a single backer who is interested in one of my viking-style shields. That’s really not that many folks.

(Which everyone should be. They’re awesome. Ahem. Sorry.)

How can we get the rest of the way?

  • We have no pre-order backers yet. Share the Backerkit preorder link and get the word out.
  • While the adventure is Dragon Heresy . . . 5e is really just “turn Threat DC/Hit DC/DR into armor class” and this adventure can be played nearly as-is. A bit of cross-promotion will go a long way.
  • There’s a great opportunity for game stores to pick up Dragon Heresy and Lost Hall at a discount. Mentioning this to your Favorite Local Game Store would be helpful. And it only would take eight such orders to push us over the edge to the print run.

I should note that the prices in the pre-order store and add-ons reflect the sale that was going on when I launched the Kickstarter, effectively extending until Jan 25 the time that my stuff is 23% off.

New Maps

Glynn is making great progress on the new maps, which are a heck of a lot more on-point than the more generic maps that used to be there. I’ll start inserting the images into the layout that I’ve got going starting today.

He’s got at least two maps completely finished, with more on the way. He’s knocking them down very quickly.

This shows a sample spread with “maps as art.” The maps are actually full-size for a page: 8.5×11, and will appear with scale bars and references for what a 5′ or 10′ square would be. These full-page maps will be available in the back of the print copy, as well as a separate file for drag-and-drop into your favorite Virtual Table Top.

I think the new style of maps integrates much better than the old one, especially when compared to the map styles Glynn did for the new Logiheimli section, as well as the broad area maps locating the Hall more precisely – something missing from the old edition of the book.

You can see that I still have a bit of conversion work left – eliminating references to Hall of Judgment for the Powered by GURPS Dungeon Fantasy RPG. In nearly every case, this sort of conversion is very easy: I can either look at my old 5e notes from Lost Hall (1st Edition), or convert on the fly. Lots of room in the book to accommodate layout reflow as well.

So things are going well and quickly, and I don’t see a reason to shift schedule at this time!

In the meantime: Surveys, surveys, surveys!

Glynn is hard at work on new maps for Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition), and below you can find a bit of history on the old maps, how he and I got to collaborate, and some WIP he’s willing to show.

Maps and Expenses

When Lost Hall of Tyr (1st Edition) was being made, I budgeted for a Kickstarter that equaled my first: about 300 folks. I also spent a bunch of money on a really prime piece of artwork that was (and still is) the most expensive single image I’ve yet procured.

(It is really awesome though.)

Even so, I couldn’t afford bespoke maps. Bogie Maps – and Dan was a pleasure to work with – had stock maps in hand, and was able to mildly customize a few for me using assets he already had.

As an example, he created a generic location for “Rival Claim” using a stock map. The advantage was obviously cost. The disadvantage was that it had no real tie to the adventure description: it was just a big map.

That has its charm, as it’s portable. And the full-scale combat maps are still part of the book package. But when I got the opportunity to upgrade content of the book for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG as Hall of Judgment, the project required more maps. Specific maps, that would let the linear convention-style demonstration adventure – Lost Hall’s purpose was to demonstrate the concepts in Dungeon Grappling – turn into something much more non-linear and sandboxy. Not a true sand-box; it is a quest adventure, after all. But something with more geography, and a lot more detail and options on the approach.

Glynn Seal’s The Midderlands

I got to know Glynn through his Midderlands kickstarter(s). I was impressed by his high production values on the book, and also with the quality of his cartography and artwork. Very evocative, and really brought the feeling he was going for to the work.

 

When I decided to produce new maps, and new locations, from the Village at Logiheimli to the Goblin Warrens (two of them!) to make mincemeat out of adventurers . . . um, provide a suitable challenge for adventurers . . . I reached out to see if he was available for commission.

Well, he was.

Logiheimli; an Easy Choice

He was (and remains) extremely easy to work with. I sent really, really coarse sketches of what I was looking for – I’m a stick-figure kind of guy when it comes to de novo art creation, though I’m a fair hand at digital compositing of existing work.

He turned it into something glorious, which is of course included in Lost Hall 2nd Edition.

So when it came time to upgrade the maps such as Rival Claim to something better as part of the Lost Hall 2nd Edition conversion . . . Glynn was the obvious choice.

I sent him some art notes, and of course he has a copy of Hall of Judgment since he worked on it (and super-easy to get it to him, since the books were printed in the UK).

Now that the New Year is here, he’s already hard at work, and has documented his creation of the new Rival Claim map on his blog.

I can’t recommend Glynn enough as a creator and a collaborator.  You can see the first of seven new maps below . . . stay tuned for more, and of course please help steer your friends and Favorite Game Store folks to the Pre-Order page!

Thanks for staying with me!

Update on Surveys

The “Smoke Test,” which vets the survey for effectiveness and function, is nearly complete. I will likely send it out to all backers shortly.

It will run for three full weeks, during which time I hope you’ll help me get the word out, as the Pre-Order Store is open, and if we can hit extra stretch goals during that time, I’m all for it.

I should be seeing the initial Kickstarter campaign funds settle sometime between today and Sunday. That will allow me to, in earnest, get cracking on the finalization of text, maps, and printing.

That’s it! Hope you guys had Holiday breaks that were eventful in only good ways.

Also, if you’re curious to how 2018 treated Gaming Ballistic, read about it below and see what’s coming next.

Gaming Ballistic 2018 Year in Review

If you missed the campaign, or if you have more freedom now that the holiday season has come and gone: you can now Pre-Order Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition) on Backerkit!

Visit the Pre-Order Store

All the same products are available as during the campaign – the books, the bundles, even the Viking-style Battle Shields of Torengar.

The campaign was short and raised about $4,100, which was enough to secure a quality print run on 85# silk-coated paper. But it won’t take many more backers doing pre-orders to push the campaign past the $6,000 stretch goal at which point we go for an offset print run.

What’s that got to do with anything? It’s a higher-quality book. Still softcover, but heavier paper (105# stock), and with a smyth-sewn (so it won’t fall apart) lay-flat binding. That way it’ll sit on your table for easy reference during games, and the pages are physically sewn into the book, so they won’t fall out with repeated use.

If we actually reach $7500 . . . the book becomes a hardcover.

I’ll admit it: I drool a bit about that one. Having a quality hardcover book sitting next to the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set on store shelves? It’s doable. The softcover is even more doable, as it would only take another 60 or so folks to jump on board at the Print+PDF level, or only 30 picking up both the core book and the adventure.

Help spread the word and make it happen!

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”