FnordCon 2 is looking for folks to run and play RPGs. 14 tables, three days, in Austin TX. Gaming Ballistic will be there; so will Sean Punch. Come by!

This is a repost of the Daily Illuminator. I’d like to point out that RPGs are listed first in the title, and that there are 14 tables for RPGs. That’s more than Car Wars and Munchkin combined. So if you were worried that FnordCon is really MunchkinCon, well, if it were, they’d have called it that.

I’ll be there. So will Sean Punch, who is great fun. I’ll be on two panels: one on GURPS/DFRPG, the other on TFT.

So sign up, and sign up to game. Sign up to RUN a game. I’ll give digital materials, from pre-gen characters from Hall of Judgment to any of the adventures I publish, to anyone that wants to run games at the Con. Let me know you’ve signed up, what games you want to run, and the time slots, and I’ll email you the adventures and map packs if they exist.

I have semi-final table assignments for FnordCon: 14 tables for RPGs, four for Car Wars, six for Munchkin. Times a weekend’s worth of game slots . . . equals a lot of games. And that’s not even taking the open gaming room into account. Or the Ogre room, whose tables will move around depending on the scenario.

There is still time to sign up, and we’d love to have you. Actually, right now would be a great time to register, because I’m about to send out the “want to run games and earn swag?” letter to everyone on the mailing list.

What have we got for you?

     – A weekend of games in a nice hotel.

     – Our staff will be accessible, running games and answering questions.

     – A big game library, and people to teach you both the new things and the classics.

     – Also meet our guest(s) – starting with GoH John Kovalic.  Also: Sean Punch! Drew Metzger! Andrew Hackard! David Blanchard of GPI! Ross Thompson of The Op!

     – See (and help playtest) games and adventures that have not been released, and in some cases have not been announced.

You can register right here.

 Steve Jackson

Hey, look! I’m coming up for air for a (brief) moment!

I wanted to highlight Paradox Game’s new crowdfunding campaign. He’s a mapmaker, and he’s offering up a set of more than 20 tactical maps for fantasy RPGs. They were created with The Fantasy Trip in mind, but any game where folks try and murderize other folks in a tactical environment can use these.

Full color, and I know who he’s using to print them; if you have the Hexagram ‘zines or any of Phil Reed’s recent products, they’ll be that good.

Check it out . . . and help out a creator in his efforts!

Tactical Hex Maps for Fantasy RPGs

From the computer in the Lair of the Chaotic GM

Douglas’ Conditional Injury article from Pyramid #3/120 is an excellent alternative to GURPS’ default HP ablation system, especially if you dislike the “death by a thousand papercuts” trope in RPGs. I have built a small tool to facilitate its use:


It takes into account damage after DR, the target’s HP and other relevant parameters, and outputs the inflicted injury severity. Various consequences such as required HT rolls, shock penalties etc. are also included. The article allows for multiple interpretations of the effects of injury, lending itself very well to different styles of games, but in this case I decided to remain close to the injury rules as presented in the Basic Set.


While I’m busy finishing up the fourth of four books for the Nordlond Sagas Kickstarter, Steve Jackson Games has launched more support for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

The project funded in a few hours on the first day. But this is a “Quickstarter” which means it’s only running for a week. And though the 64-page book funded on Day 1, it “only” has about 350 backers as I publish this, and more is always better. Things get at least “nod with satisfaction” for me at about 500 backers, and just over 600 was my “take” on the last two projects I ran.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG had nearly 1,600 backers (1,587 if you must know) on its initial launch, and this book promises some ready to go magic items, monsters, and pre-gen NPC races that could easily be migrated over to the player side of the force if a GM wants.

I’m in for the print version; I may upgrade to Retail later, as, well, I DO have a store.

Support the campaign sooner rather than later; it really is the primary portion of the campaign rather than the post-campaign Backerkit-and-Shipping phase that I watch, and I suspect that the SJG folks look at he same thing.

Quick note.

I worked with GoDaddy to get some site maintenance done over the weekend. I’m finally on PHP7, which caused me issues when I wasn’t after the new year.

Also, I now have print and PDF copies of the TFT books from Five Perilous Journeys up for sale on the GB Store. Was only PDF for a while. The link is to the bundle for all five, but you can also get them individually.

I’ve got a bit more to go before I post the 2019 in review.

Gaming Ballistic products are now on DriveThruRPG. One of my goals entering 2020 was to host PDF versions of my products on DriveThruRPG. The reach is so large that even with the cut they take, hopefully it will balance out. Of course, if you’re already here, you might simply go to my web store – we small-time publishers can use all the direct sales we can get!

On the flip side, Gaming Ballistic goes to great lengths for print copies to get offset print runs, or if the demand isn’t there for a full run, then higher quality digital printing.

With that in mind, the following titles are currently available in PDF via DriveThru:

D&D/OSR Products

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG

The Fantasy Trip

More will come later as the PDFs are finalized.


This is a nice unboxing video of the Four Perilous Journeys “ALL THE THINGS” pledge level. All five adventures (and the 1-2% error rate on Vampire Hunter Belladonna for assembly problems did not affect this order, so yay!), plus the counter sheets and card deck. Engage MN Passive Voice: “Nice things are said.”

Plus: beer.

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Here’s a bit of a hodge-podge of updates for Gaming Ballistic. Sorry I’ve been content light for a bit; all of my efforts are going to the Nordlond Sagas writing and editing and layout.

Books Arriving!

I’m starting to get reports that the books are arriving in the USA. Excellent; that sounds about right. Some Media Mail is super fast, others can take up to 10 business days. So stay alert.

Errors? Can fix.

Also, make sure you get what you paid for; with a big delivery, fulfillment errors can take place. This includes everything from “oops, you’re missing X” to “the USPS crushed my books into something unrecognizable.”

I’ve got LOTS of spare copies of books. If your card decks or counter sheets are damaged . . . that’s going to be more of an issue. But let’s hope that the really high price I pay for each box (I mean, really?) means they’re quality stuff and protect the goods well. That being said, I’ve sent out two replacement sets of adventures to our “not the USA” friends due to mis-handling, and I’ve got lots and lots of copies in the USA that can be used for that purpose…so if your stuff is broke, email me directly with a photo of the damage and we’ll sort it out.

Feedback Wanted

As always: the thing that creators probably get the least of is post-campaign feedback. “I liked it,” or even better, “I played it” and “here’s what I liked and what I didn’t” is super-valuable. Especially since I’m going to be turning my efforts to “More Perilous Journeys” in 2020.

More Perilous Journeys?

Yep. That’s going to be the new title of the Kickstarter. I may try and take a page from the Car Wars concept and rack up as many pre-orders as possible…but I’m going to be trying a few different things in 2020 with my crowdfunding direction, so we’ll have to see. Kickstarter is popular but a bit confusing; Backerkit is nice, but really labor intensive. Both lack tools that I’d like to see and make things harder than they should. I may try something else, but I want to test it first with a smaller project.

First: let’s take care of “when.” I expect/hope to have all five manuscripts in my hands by Feb 14, 2020. Three are already done, though not edited or laid out. The TFT layout is very clean, so I don’t anticipate any issues there. I’m going to do my best to have all of the text layout ready to go on these by the time crowdfunding launches; I also need a bit of a break after the Nordlond Sagas campaign due to behind-the-scenes stuff. So figure late Feb/early March for a launch date on these.

You’ll be seeing three more adventures that are sequels to Crown of Eternity and Curse of the Pirate King; these are GM’d adventures written by the same team of Christopher R. Rice and J. Edward Tremlett.

You’ll also be getting two 32-page solos from David Pulver; he’s writing those now. They will be very, very different than Vampire Hunter Belladonna in subject matter.

I’ll see if folks want more counters and card decks. As before, these will only be offered as one-time specials for the Kickstarter, but I will certainly have the older counter sheets and card decks from “Four/Five Perilous Journeys” as an add-on, a dedicated print run for those.

Smaller and Bigger 2020

That’s what I’ve got on tap for you for TFT in 2020 thus far. I’ve got other things in mind that year, of course. One is a giant Dungeon Fantasy RPG book, the Norðlondr Ovinabokin, the “Nordlond Enemies Book,” which is planned as a huge bestiary, in hardcover, full color. We’ll see if “A full-length monster manual for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG” has the legs folks say it will! Also, maybe-possibly a brand new RPG from a name you know well (not mine) that is neither TFT nor GURPSy, but I’m very excited about. That one would come late in the year.

So “smaller” number of major releases; each one will be “bigger” though, in terms of how much content will come with the project. I’ve also got a number of projects in mind that will pop up when they’re ready to go, and if my alternate vector for crowdfunding works out, can pop up at any time. I’m already working a really neat DFRPG concept for a 16 or 32-page book with the author of Nordlondr Folk and Hand of Asgard…and more besides. Anything like this will show up as shorter works, though.

By Special Request

A comment in the TFT Discord channel boiled down to “I’d really like a set of cards for the Nordlond monsters.”

I’ll tell you what I told him: after the Nordlondr Ovinabokin is done, I’ll have prose and art for likely over 200 creatures. Turning those into the much-simpler TFT critters should be straight-forward.

So consider it under consideration. Obviously something like this requires permission and discussion with SJG . . . but if they say yes, I’ll see what I can do to slot something like it in for 2020.

The Reloading Press was a feature that ran steady for a while here on GB, but I lost track of it when I got busy publishing. But recently, I’ve been hearing noises about a new “best cartridge ever.” Well, that’s what nearly all new cartridge promise. Even so, this one was very interesting, and it combines two features I like – and that GURPS likes – in one place. A long, narrow, high sectional density bullet, plus a shorter, fatter case which gives a nice starting volume to keep pressure high.

.224 Valkyrie (5.7x41mm)

The .224 Valkyrie takes the basic case in one of my favorite cartridges for GURPS (and not bad in real life, too), the 6.8x43mm SPC, and then launches a long, narrow bullet from it with the same barrel diameter as the base .223/5.56x45mm NATO bullet.

It was developed in 2017, and really looks an awful lot like someone was playing with the GURPS ballistics calculator I developed. They weren’t, of course, but . . . well, see for yourself.

The basic concept takes a normal 6.8SPC case and launches a very heavy, long .223 bullet out of it. The standard load is 90 grains, whereas a usual match-grade or longer range .223 is 69 to 77 grains (depending on manufacturer). So this is going to be a bullet that really wants to not slow down . . . and you bet, one of the intended uses for the .224 Valkyrie is to ring bells to 1,000m while still remaining supersonic, which is about 350m/s.

The usual contender, the 62gr M855, or the improved Mk318 or M855A1, fall to the speed of sound at about 570m using my calculator, which says “accurate to 500-600m” out of the shorter barrel weapons that’s their design platform, and about 630m out of a 20″ barrel.

So what happens when you fling a 90 grain bullet out of a 20″ barrel? Nice things.

Ballistic’s Calculator Inputs

Basic inputs for the calculator are as follows, selecting 406mm for the barrel length.

.224 Valkyrie
Chamber Pressure 55000 psi
Barrel bore 5.7 mm
Case Length 41 mm
Chamber Bore 10.7 mm
Barrel length 508 mm
Bullet Mass 90 grains
Aspect Ratio 5.4 L/Bore
Burn length 14.66 mm
Projectile Caliber 5.7 mm
Total Accelerated Mass 90 grains
Expansion Ratio 2 expansion
Projectile Load 1


Output Stats
The rifle develops appreciable damage at pistol-length barrels, at least within the assumptions of the calculator. Why you would want to do this is another question, and putting all of that powder out of a 5″ (127mm) barrel is an exercise in gratuitous fireball generation (OK, maybe that’s why you’d want to do it).
At longer barrels – which is the entire point of the round – it comes into its own. Out of a 14.5mm carbine barrel, it’s still going to hit for 5d or 5d+1 and stay supersonic to 750m. With a target rifle of 20 to 24″, the calculator suggests nearly 6d penetration and an accurate range pushing 850m…and it will tumble and fragment (and not drop down to pi- instead of pi) to 220m out of a carbine and 320m out of a rifle-length platform. And that’s no joke.
Real-world data, rather than my calculator, pushes that supersonic distance to something like 1,250m with the right barrel and bullet. This thing can reach a long, long way. (Max range, not shown, is probably 4,550m with my calculator.).
So, here’s the chart:
Half-Damage Range 661
AP Wound Channel 0.5
Normal Channel 1.4
Barrel Length(mm) Barrel Length (in) Velocity (m/s) Muzzle Energy (J) Damage D&D Damage Supersonic (m) Pi to pi- (m)
117 4.6 475 658 3d+1 16 303 0
137 5.4 516 777 3d+2 17 385 0
160 6.3 555 899 3d+3 17 458 0
174.5 6.9 577 971 4d 17 496 0
204 8.0 615 1104 4d+1 17 559 25
241 9.5 655 1251 4d+2 18 622 87
285 11.2 694 1406 4d+3 18 680 145
311 12.2 714 1488 5d 18 708 173
364 14.3 750 1640 5d+1 18 756 221
442 17.4 793 1834 5d+2 19 811 277
524 20.6 830 2007 5d+3 19 856 321
577 22.7 850 2107 6d 19 880 345
700 27.6 890 2311 6d+1 19 926 391
  • The velocity is at the muzzle. The velocity with a 20″ barrel is tuned to match real-world data at 2700 fps, which is the long, heavy bullet designed to carry farther, rather than develop the most energy at the muzzle.
  • The pi to pi- range is where the damage drops from piercing to small piercing. For very short barrels (smaller than 177mm in my model), the bullet is slow enough that it will not yaw and fragment, and so it’s only good for pi- rather than pi. This is defined as 600m/s in my model, which is somewhat arbitrary.
  • It’s possible that the damage (penetration, really) is perhaps 10% high. That would still give a 20″ barrel about 5d+2, and a 14.5″ barrel a full 5d out of an M4 platform.
At any useful barrel length for a rifle cartridge, that is, about 9″ and higher (and that’s a darn short rifle), there is some range at which it will do its full pi damage type. At carbine length and above (14.5″) this is measured in hundreds of meters; this is a good choice at moderate range as well as long.
For GURPS gunners, it’s a good cartridge, though not a great one, I think. The long range is short-changed in the calculator vs reality, and the difference between (say) a 320m range where it drops to pi- and a 660m 1/2D range is pretty far beyond the usual engagement distances for PCs. You do get rifle-size penetration out of a carbine-sized platform, though, which is nice. I suspect recoil is manageable as well.
Where this will do well is if you don’t want to lug around an 9-11 lb rifle in the form of a .308, which has a lower tumble range (250m) and a lower 1/2D range (575m) than the 320m and 660m of the .224 Valkyrie. If the 7.62 actually drops from pi to pi- when it drops below 600m/s or so, then there’s a weird case where at 250-350m, and then between 575 and 660m you’re better off with the .224 Valkyrie, but at other ranges you’re better off injury-wise with the .308. That’s cutting it pretty fine: what in general this means is that with a full-length rifle in both cases, you can go with a lighter platform (AR15 rather than FN-FAL, AR-10 based). That can save you three to five pounds on your arms. Also, the ammunition is lighter and the magazines bigger for the .224 Valkyrie.
For GURPS, though, you really need to care about reaching out a long, long way with a lightweight weapon before this becomes something you’re looking at seriously. Ironically, where the 6.8SPC got somewhat of a “meh” reaction in the real world, in GURPS it’s like the .40S&W – a goldilocks cartridge where everything is “just right.” At 6d it’ll drop Joe Average to -HP in one shot, and 3d to the vitals at distance is still a potential lethal dose through light body armor.
You need a purpose-built upper receiver (or at least a barrel, chamber, and bolt change) to shoot this cartridge. The thing is going to look like every other AR-15 style rifle out there on the outside, and you’ll spend (in 2019) anywhere from $350 to 700 to get one…unless for whatever reason you want/need to spend more (for things like super-custom, which is frequently a great excuse to buy Weapon Bond).
So no real details or special platform list today! This modification gives you a bit more penetration, a bit more range, and a bit heavier ammunition out of a barrel that’s the same bore as a standard M16/AR15. It does this by increasing the size of the cartridge case, which keeps the pressure higher as the bullet goes down the barrel, and by shooting a round that’s probably going to be 50% heavier than the one you launch out of your standard M16 type platform. For carbine users, this is a good thing, in a way, because it retains its full damage 50% farther than the lighter round (though both have roughly the same 220m or so range to where they both drop to pi- from pi).