Access is one of the more jealously guarded privileges in hierarchical systems, and social standing reinforced status, but also kept the big dogs ideally focused on the issues they need to be concerned with. Details of policy and realm health, maurauding fae raids, and magical curses. The important stuff.

The rules below are a revision of a new insertion to the Dragon Heresy set, and seemed like a good idea when in my recent streaming play the 1st-level characters seemed bound and determined to head off to see the hajarl or a merchant prince personally. I deflected it in play by having a lower-rank NPC, who happened to be related to the merchant prince, take the call instead. Why pick up dice if you don’t have to?

But some sort of guideline for whether or not an influential person will take the PCs request seemed wise.

Plus: if you’re wondering, this is basically an equivalent of “you get XP for gold.” The wealthier and more successful you are, the more ships, fortresses, and troops you commend, the nicer your armor, weapons, and clothing, the more you look the part of the mighty hero. It’s also a good way to look at how a sheltered offspring of a powerful noble might be a 1st-level or lower character, but still be worthy of dealing with seriously: good Persuasion due to charisma and practice, plus tremendous status and resources. Suddenly not all lords have to be 15th level fighters or mages (though many will be)!

The rules here aren’t final. I may flip it around a bit and instead make the Social Standing a passive check, and recast this as a 2d10 or 3d6 roll for a “reaction” with relative standing as a modifier (so it’s a single, player-facing roll instead of a contest). A passive score will also allow a quick comparison: “no, you’re more than 20 lower than Lord Robert; the best way to get the hajarl’s ear is to approach Lady Alina, the newly-appointed jarl of one of his vassal towns; she’s a jarl, but of lower standing and might treat more equally with you, and SHE can bring your petition before Robert.”

None of the concepts below should replace good roleplay, but they will help guide things. I may yet flatten things out a bit; pretty much anyone could step in front of the Thing/Althing to speak, and the kind of disparity in social standing was a continental thing more than a viking thing. But the core is there, and this basic concept is easily portable into other games: apparently this works out fairly well using ACKS’ native level tables as well.

So there we go. Here’s the Dragon Heresy version of “XP for gold.”

As the Kickstarter winds down, today I’m going to write rules for “flyting,” a ritual poetic contest of insults. That will complete the “alternate rules work” that I want to do to provide options for conflict and conflict resolution that don’t involve pointed sticks. Between flyting and grappling and access restrictions found below, there are plenty of ways to challenge the party without relying n always breaking out weapons.

From here, I will get busy with writing “Identify Fiend or Foe” advice for my monsters, and ensuring that some of the “I’ll do this later” parts of the ms are finally complete.  Continue reading “Dragon Heresy Rules Excerpt: Social Standing”

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

Earlier I went through and took a stab at what it costs to develop an RPG book. One can consider these, in somewhat imprecise terms, economic costs, rather than an accounting or cash-flow cost, in that it’s not required to write checks for all of them. Further, the costs presented represent doing everything on a contracting basis, and everything bespoke, meaning created for your game from scratch.

This is not remotely the only way to do it. It’s probably not even necessarily the best way to do it.

So I’m going to muse here on ways to reduce both the economic cost as well as the cash cost of RPG development. Continue reading “Economizing on RPG Development Costs”

I tend to be pretty transparent here at Gaming Ballistic, perhaps even too much so. Still, it came as a surprise to me – though it was, in a Rumsfeldian sense, a known unknown – just what it took to make a game. For example, I had always thought that print games were simply much more expensive to design and produce than PDF, and the casual derision occasionally flung at PDFs on some boards reinforced that.

Turns out that with modern publishing methods, at least for me, the only difference between “make it a PDF” and “make it print” is your InDesign output settings. Exaggeration? Perhaps, but not by much. The print costs are non-trivial, true. But they’re also not nearly the bulk of the cost.

There was a discussion of “Production Values” on the SJG Forums, where I offered to lay down what my estimates of costs were to make a game. It’s not universal – every company is different, I’m sure. There will be a lot of “from X to Y” in it, because sometimes you pay what you have to, and sometimes you pay what you want to. It’s also going to include some things that many small companies don’t “pay” for, because they do it out of sweat equity. I do this myself, and it’s probably not smart.

Linear and Non-Linear Costs

Many of the things here are what I’d call linear costs. They scale very directly on a per-word basis, or indirectly, in that you don’t technically pay by the word, but you might pay by the page, or have an average number of things you have to do based on layout, which will put a certain number of words on a page.

I’m going to use Lost Hall of Tyr as my primary example in most cases. Mostly because start to finish, it’s completely done, and I have a very good idea of what I spent on it, having maintained my spreadsheet and updated it as “projected cost” turned to “real cost.” If you really wanted to get good, first make your budgetary sheet, and then copy it and lock it, and make “actual expenses” a separate tracking item. Continue reading “RPG Development Costs”

I’m thrilled to be able to report that Lost Hall of Tyr physical copies have been mailed to the backers that ordered them, and I now have stock of the softcover on sale through my web store.

Lost Hall was a grand and fun experiment. It was a GenCon scenario designed to show off both Dungeon Grappling and peek into the Etera setting that will be more sharply featured in the upcoming Dragon Heresy RPG.

In both respects, the peek was successful. Reviewers commented that the inclusion of Norse and pseudo-Norse elements were well done, while both convention games went quite well, and of the fifteen people that played it, even the one I thought based on body language was going to have harsh negative feedback had nice things to say. Those that walked away with a comment all noted that the system made grappling fun, for the first time in many cases.

I still have a few things to do before I can post my final “tale of the tape” for financials. As noted, my splurging on a piece of art by a top-shelf artist was a risk I took gladly, and it’s a gorgeous image. Net/net on release, though, it probably cost me about $500-1000 more than I brought in from the Kickstarter to make the book. All things considered, that’s not bad, and once again I delivered PDF and physical rewards months ahead of time. PDFs were delivered two months early, and updated with tweaks and fixes since then, including a full bookmarking pass. The Physical copies were not promised until April, and so were a minimum of three months early.

So: Lost Hall of Tyr. Go get it. It’s available for 5e and Swords & Wizardry, and includes a Dungeon Grappling quick-start for those curious.

I need to wrap this up earlier in the day today due to family schedule, but here are the winners for the 12 Days of OSR Christmas, from beginning to end

Day Winner Prize
14-Dec Edwin Nagy PDF
15-Dec MIke Bauer PDF
16-Dec Ryan Hixson Dungeon Grappling hardcopy
16-Dec Jonathan N PDF
17-Dec Froth PDF
18-Dec J T Brookreson PDF
19-Dec Adam Ness Lost Hall physical copy
19-Dec Paul Go PDF
20-Dec Jeff Scifert PDF
21-Dec Ngo Vinh-Hoi PDF
22-Dec James S Dungeon Grappling hardcopy
22-Dec Rus K PDF
23-Dec Tony Thompson PDF
24-Dec Tim Baker PDF
25-Dec Steve Muchow Lost Hall physical copy
25-Dec Jan Egil Bjune PDF
25-Dec Matt Jackson PDF
25-Dec Kelly PDF
25-Dec Robert Lambert PDF
25-Dec Jarad PDF
25-Dec Mike Smith PDF
25-Dec Jonathan B PDF

If you won a PDF, you’ll have received (or are about to receive) an email from me asking about your preference for Lost Hall or Dungeon Grappling. Physical copies – well, two were given out by hand, as Ryan and Adam both coincidentally lived in the Twin Cities. One will go out later by request of the recipient so he’s there when it arrives. The last one to Steve, will have to wait until my own physical copies arrive in the next few days and will go out along with the Kickstarter backers’.

Thanks to all for dropping by and expressing interest in the giveaway and my products. My only request: read and review! If you have a blog, I’d appreciate a bit of a writeup. If you don’t, an email or note will do, and I’ll host it here on Gaming Ballistic.

Merry Christmas!

The Day 5 PDF Winner was JT Bookerson – he’s not chosen whether he wants Dungeon Grappling or Lost Hall yet.

The Day 6 winner of Lost Hall of Tyr – a print copy – is Adam Ness.

Day 7 and Day 8 will be more “PDF of your choice!”

 

Note: Apparently both physical copies have gone to folks here in MN by random chance. I swear it’s the Google random number generator and not “must be in MN to win.” But . . . if Ryan and Adam are willing, they’ll meet me at my Viking martial arts studio and be handed their copies.

 

The OSR Christmas continues today.

Edwin Nagy was yesterday’s winner, and I gave him a choice of Lost Hall of Tyr or Dungeon Grappling – he chose Lost Hall.

I’ll offer the same choice to each winner – which of my (for the moment) two products do you want? Dungeon Grappling will suit if you really want all the options in it, or wish rules for Pathfinder and 5e along with your Swords & Wizardry.

Lost Hall is the newer product, and also contains a two-page Dungeon Grappling quick-start that will get you going on sensible grappling rules. As a GM, you’ll love what they do for your monsters. As a player, it’s a sensible extension of the usual combat rules that gives an axis of conflict resolution that doesn’t always result in dismemberment and escalation (but still can be used for such).

In any case: the plethora of electrons available in my inventory makes “winner’s choice” a sensible offer.

Merry Christmas!

This year, my Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr products are participating in Erik Tenkar’s 12 Days of OSR Christmas.

And today’s day 1.

Each day I’ll be giving away a PDF of one of these products, and every third day (16th, 19th, 22nd, 25th) I’ll give away a physical copy of one of the two.

Leave a comment to be considered for the drawing each day!