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!

James Introcaso asked a simple question.

What is the kindest thing a player can do for a GM? #DnD #RPG

The answers are well worth reading.

A few things spring to mind here, many of which are doubtless repeated in the thread.

Show up on time

If you’re not going to show or are going to be late, let folks know ahead of time. As far ahead of time as possible. A decent GM can plan for almost anything. “The Key Guy” didn’t show up? Not so much.

Play the game, not the rules

Metagame rules discussions are a hoot, and I enjoy talking game mechanics. Everyone that has ever heard me on a podcast or been part of a discussion with me on a forum like Tenkar’s Wedneday night Tavern Chats knows I loves me some game mechanics.

But the rules aren’t the game, any more than a skeleton is the person, or the riverbed the totality of the river. They support the game, give structure and guidance to it. Provide the framework in which amazing journeys can be taken. All that stuff. But the game’s the thing.

The rules set expectations and give the players and the GM guidance to what the result might be when “anything can be attempted.” Depending on genre, some things are sensible (“Wonder Woman lifts the tank over her head!”) where in other genres, that same thing is not just implausible, but stupid (“You give yourself a hernia trying to lift the tank over your head. Seriously, what are you thinking?”).

This can get dicey when you’re playing games with a strong tactical or wargamey feel, such as DnD, GURPS, and many others. Still, by and large, save or table detailed discussion for after the moment. Continue reading “Nice things to do for your TTRPG Group”

So . . . close

I’ve spent a good few days working on the proof copy as well as the digital files. I posted an errata list on my blog, and have managed to adjust all of those. I also went through and tweaked some things – such as ensuring spell names were in italics, re-inserting some em-dashes where space-endash-space was used, and unifying the look of hyperlinks with the print and PDF files. I’m happy with the print file at this point, and have re-uploaded it to DriveThruRPG. If that’s accepted (sometime next week) I will lock down the physical copy and get things moving for international deliveries.

For US-deliveries for print, the internal file is the same as DriveThruRPG, which is easy. The cover file is not, because the templates for the printers are different. I’ll finish that up tonight, and order a proof copy from PubGraphics. Because the files aren’t exactly the same, it’ll make me feel better to have a physical one before I mass-order.

Also this weekend, I’ll go through and add/validate bookmarks for the PDF.

Speaking of PDF, I want to draw attention to something wonderful Todd did at my request, but he pulled it off wonderfully.
Continue reading “Lost Hall of Tyr: Inching Towards Final Release”

I hope y’all have been waiting for this day as I have. But I have locked down those who responded to the survey (all but 17 of y’all) and distributed files to those folks. I will next examine those that have not filled out their survey . . . and if it looks like things are in order for the transfer from Kickstarter and that each of these folks will get what they asked for during the campaign proper, I will release those as well.

As such, 225 people should have received their digital files, or at least an email saying that they’re ready for download. Some of the files are very large, as one would expect from such graphically intensive work.

So, the countdown begins. Please read, inspect, and ask questions, and post your comments in this blog post.

Yes, this one, please!

In any case, read it, play it, let me know what you find. If there are errata (and there always are), please post them to the blog thread, and Todd and I will see what we can do.

Note that an erratum is something like a typo or grammar error. Things that are preferences or suggestions can only be entertained if they don’t break layout, and will be given a somewhat gimlet eye even then: the purpose is to finish the work, after all!

Thank you so much for coming along with me on this journey. I appreciate your faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Douglas Cole

Gaming Ballistic, LLC