Gaming Ballistic started as a blog in late 2012, and then became a company in its own right in October 2016, as the company formally launched its first product, Dungeon Grappling.

This year, 2017, marks the first full year of the company’s operation. It still has but one person doing all of the administrative work: me. And thus far, Gaming Ballistic exists as a vehicle to deliver Douglas’ game ideas, but with luck and planning, that will change.

Gaming Ballistic is a producer of games and entertainment.

2017: Executive Summary

The year started off with a frenzy of activity completing promised deliveries for Dungeon Grappling, the first product Kickstarted and delivered by Gaming Ballistic. All rewards were delivered ahead of schedule – physical product was 3 months early, PDFs were delivered a month early. Not bad for the first Kickstarter for GB.

The Gaming Ballistic website and blog site were completely revamped, and look and work very well. A lot of below-the-waterline work on several projects consumed most of the company’s time and money in 2017 to no real outcome in terms of “product that GB can sell.”

GB did hit GenCon as part of the Independent Game Designer’s Network booth, and I was also there as part of a reward package for backing the Dungeon Fantasy RPG by Steve Jackson Games. That was inspiring but expensive, with relatively little to show for it in terms of market presence or sales. I did, however, write and run a scenario whose purpose was to demonstrate Dungeon Grappling. Fifteen people from ages 10-50 played through that scenario to good success.

The combination of leveraging some of the Dragon Heresy background material and the existing write-ups allowed GB to write and launch its second Kickstarter, for a linear demonstration adventure eventually called “Lost Hall of Tyr.” That Kickstarter also successfully funded, and primary rewards were again delivered three months ahead of schedule.

Expanding into physical stuff a bit, GB also researched and constructed mostly-authentic Viking-style shields to match the Dragon Heresy theme. A single shield was sold at the end of the year, which capped off a lot of building and trial-and-error to get the process down. Larger plans for such crafting have been scoped out.

The year ended with the return of certain parts of the Dragon Heresy manuscript to my primary control, and new plans being laid for that product that will hopefully bear fruit in 2018.

Continue reading “Ballistic’s Report for 2017”

You have seen a slowdown in the blog recently. This has been related to game production activity for Gaming Ballistic, LLC as a company, rather than as a blog.

Dragon Heresy

I’ve been furiously editing Dragon Heresy. I am determined to get this into shape this year, and by “in shape” I mean “into gamer’s hands.”

This will take two forms. The first is a product that will cover level 1-5, with limited selection of race (humans, dwarves, dragonborn, half-elves), and class (the classic four, limited clerical domains). Basic monster selection, plus humanoid foes of various persuasions. No new art to speak of, though I do have two or three dozen images from Dungeon Grappling, Lost Hall of Tyr, and some pre-purchased art for Dragon Heresy itself. The editing will be done by me. The rules will be stripped to the minimum needed to play the game.

This “ashcan” or “Basic” project will use the layout that Michael Clarke has developed, which is freakin’ gorgeous. It will likely use one of the covers for the book – probably the Book of Heroes – though I might take a GURPSy approach to it and make a cover with excerpts from the covers I’ve already got.

This will get things in front of people, and finally put Dragon Heresy in the public square for consumption. I think it’s a great SRD5.1 modification and playtesting went very well. The “ashcan” will not be a small book, but I’ll be shooting for maybe 128-160 pages. I’ll hopefully use the funds from that product to offset and accelerate the Big Set, mostly things I like to have done in advance, like professional editing, layout, and indexing.

From there, I will look to Kickstart the full three-volume set for art, and stuff as much as possible into the book.

I have big plans for Dragon Heresy and the core engine for the game, but none of that can start until it’s out there.

The Hunted Lands

The hunted lands will be a starter adventure that will support the Dragon Heresy game, and especially the Basic rules. I’ve got some great ideas in mind here, and the adventure will be geared towards starting adventurers.

I’ve got something like six to eight major concept axes that I’m working with, involving challenges from various factions within the game. Some involve internal politics in Torengar, most are external threats. The adventure is more a mini-setting or setting slice than anything else. Adventure seeds in a mapped-out locale, in the manner of the Midderlands or other books like it. Based on what I have in mind, this volume could easily be as large as the Basic rules themselves.

Lost Hall of Tyr

As of this writing, the last I heard from Publisher’s Graphics, the remaining physical books were at the bindery. This means both the covers and the interior have been successfully printed, and so “any day now” I expect to get notice that the books are shipping to me. I have already prepped the mailing boxes, and will print out the shipping content pages. I expect to have a fairly short “packing party” and then get the books to the backers. The European backers’ copies are already starting to arrive. The book is on sale on DriveThruRPG and has even made a few sales (I’ve not promoted it heavily yet; I want my print inventory in hand before I do that).

The only unfulfilled promises in the Kickstarter have to do with my two high-level backers that are getting character portraits done. Those are “due” by April, so there’s still plenty of time, and I’ll be getting that started quickly as we run into January.

Other Games, Other Authors, Other Products

I’ve mentioned David Pulver’s Venture Beyond before in these updates, and that is still being worked. I’ve also been in contact with two other game designers who have shown an interest in publishing through me, though it’s at the “hey, that’s interesting!” rather than “here’s a contract stage.”

I’m also going to be selling shields – hand-crafted by me – through my website to domestic customers. I’ve been pretty happy with the ones I’ve made recently, and they’re better than most of the others out there. Not all of them, but most of them.

Finally, you might start seeing some non-game reference works on the site, though I’m not sure if that’ll happen this year or not.

Blogging

There are only so many hours in the day, and editing a 400,000 word manuscript takes up most of them. I do have a few things in my noggin on GURPS that I want to write down, and it’s always fun to do reviews and whatnot. But right now, the push to get my own work out there really eats up “let’s write for fun” time.

Even so, GURPSDay needs a shot in the arm. We’ve got nearly 100 bloggers, but most of them don’t write each week, or even at all. I’m hoping to work with Christopher Rice to throw down some challenges and topics to encourage the group to get more out there. Some of that will be regular GURPS, some will be the various sub-lines of GURPS, and some will support the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Some of the more-regular features I used to do, though, will probably return. Monster Monday and GunDay are both things I can spend focused time on, and were quite popular.

Playing Games

I want to try and get into a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game – and right now there’s one brewing under Christopher’s helm. I’m slated to play in it, and we’ll see how that goes. With my schedule, I need something with a low out-of-game burden, and the last two games were not that.

I also would really like to get into a DnD5e or Swords and Wizardry game that plays regularly.

Ahead to 2018

My year-in-review for 2017 showed me that I did more last year than, by the end of the year, it felt like. My goals for this year are to increase the number of products I put out under my publishing imprint. In 2016 and 2017, I put out one each. This year, I wish to do at least two, and “one per quarter” would be a good goal. Eventually, I really need some sort of new release each month, but I don’t think that’s a 2018 goal. One thing that I have in mind is a gear catalog with an Etera flavor to it. Loadouts and equipment that make sense for the game, with the right theme and inspiration.

The blog needs a shot in the arm, and a regular “every other day or so” schedule is the best way to do that. So I’ll work there.

The “alternate projects” like creating shields will be interesting, and if I can move some of those, will be a huge boost to my ability to create games due to the revenue influx, which for hand-crafted physical items like this can be non-trivial. I also love making them, so that’s good stuff for me.

I really need to consider a Patreon or other method to let folks help me move projects forward other than Kickstarter, and if the Big Dragon Heresy Book is to be as successful as I’d like, I need to grow my mailing list by roughly 10x. That is quite a bit. That’s a bit of Catch-22, also. I have a few ideas on how that might work, and one or two low-probability irons in the fire that would help.

Time to get to it.

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”

The Lost Hall post-campaign goings-on still go on, and they are going strong.

Backerkit, Huzzah!

This one’s all on y’all. So far, in one day, about 60% of backers have filled out the surveys. This is good. I’d like everyone to do it, of course, but if you are one of the 115 backers that expects to receive Lost Hall of Tyr or Dungeon Grappling as a physical product, I must have your shipping address, and I’d very much like it through Backerkit.

I’m also quite gratified at the number of you guys that are electing to procure some of the cool Add-Ons that are available. I’ll note that the Manor Collection is a great deal, and if you’re an OSR fan, you’ll dig it completely. Dan’s map collection is very cool, and if you play via VTTs you’ll appreciate being able to drop in a new encounter at short notice.

Stythja Still Available

Just a shout-out for this one. The top-tier pledge was the styðja, or patron level. It features the following three things:

  • The opportunity to generate a character that will effectively be a “pre-gen” for Lost Hall
  • The character will be visualized as an epic figure by one of the artists who worked on the project.
  • Finally, part of this process is a preview of the Character Generation, Races, and Classes chapters of Dragon Heresy, my forthcoming SRD5.1 full RPG.

Here’s a peek inside:

I can tell you I had a lot of fun with these, and there’s a lot more in there than just what appears in the SRD. History, different takes on the races and classes, entirely new clerical domains based on Norse mythology, new abilities and fighting styles, and more. I can tell you this: shields are going to get way cooler.

It’s still a work in progress . . . but there’s been a lot of progress and playtesting, so while it’s not perfect, it will give a feel that captures the kinds of characters that will fit easily into the world of Etera, and provide what I hope is an exciting glimpse of what’s to come.

I will be contacting those that have elected the Styðja character levels shortly after the Backerkit phase ends and distributing the required digital files at that time. The PDF collection of characters thus created will be available prior to April 2018, as promised in the Kickstarter rewards section.

Production Progress

Todd emailed me what looks to be the final file (maybe one change pending), and I’ve approved it. This means that he can start building the Table of Contents as well as hyperlinking the document.

The result of his hard work, and the excellent responsiveness of the editing and art teams, is that unless something drastically horrendous happens, the penultimate version of the digital product will be in your hands within the week after the Backerkit phase closes.

As noted in the prior update, two things happen during this phase. Firstly, I send the files to my two print vendors for proofs (actually, this is likely to start happening this week or next). Just as importantly, you guys review the heck out of your document and find what we missed. There’s always something. Check spelling, clarity, and layout issues. Test all the hyperlinks. Head to the blog post on Gaming Ballistic’s website and leave a comment in the thread that will be started for the purpose and I’ll update the “Errata” list with notes on whether we can accommodate the request. Feel free to suggest other hyperlinks that you feel will be useful.

Map Pack

The maps for the adventure are provided as 8.5×11 full pages in the back of the adventure. They are also provided at a lower (more screen compatible) resolution of about 200dpi, and are 32″ x 40″ in size at that scale. They will come as a compressed file of JPEGs so they can be pulled into your Virtual Table Top program of choice, or you can have them printed as posters or anything else.

They are full color, and have no grids or scales on them, so that for those that do use the VTT’s native grid functions, you don’t get the case where either you can’t quite match up the map grid with the program grid, or for folks like me that like hexes, have to deal with a hex overlay on a square grid.

I am working with Bogie maps on a few fun extras to make choosing between grid options easy, but no word on those yet.

Endgame and Next Projects

So that’s where we are. Thanks for coming with me so far, and please do take advantage of the “share” functions of the various forums. Give the project a re-share from Kickstarter or Backerkit. Even better, throw down a nice comment or two on the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, or the various DnD-flavored groups or RPG forums.

This won’t be my last product. I expect that within the month I’ll take delivery of a 115,000-word manuscript for a completely original Sci-Fi game that I cannot wait to get started on, which includes core rules and three short scenarios. If that goes well, the author has 27 more adventures ready to go.

And of course there’s Dragon Heresy, and I hope that I’ve convinced you that I have the project management chops to deliver even a very large project on time. The only reason that one isn’t out already is that I want to do the same quality job with it that I have done (says me) on Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr. That means art . . . and lots of it. The Dragon Heresy draft that went to Ken Hite (yes, that Ken Hite) for editing was roughly 400,000 words, or approximately 800 pages in 3 volumes. I’ll need anywhere from 200 to 400 pieces of art to do it how I want . . . and that requires a very successful campaign.

When it comes time, I hope you’ll help me with that.

Until then, back to the wilds of production for me!

I was on the Geek Gab Game Night podcast just a few moments ago. Nearly two hours on adventure design and other topics – we didn’t hold ourselves tightly to a particular theme. As always, it was a hoot interacting with my gracious hosts, and it definitely plays out as a conversation rather than a lecture!

Give a listen, and of course, support Lost Hall of Tyr!

A mailing list is a key part of any company’s outreach strategy. In short, it’s the first line of defense against stagnation and starvation. It’s the folks that have come to you, and either expressed interest in, or outright purchased your stuff.

It’s probably criminal that I haven’t set one up by now . . . a crime against good business.

But I’m rectifying that.

  • There’s now a sign-up bar at the top of the page. If you’re interested in getting emails on current and future products, progress on projects, or generally wanting to be informed as to (say) when a Kickstarter of mine will launch, please sign up.
  • If you’ve purchased something from me before, I’m going to proactively add you to the list . . . and then immediately remove you upon request, of course.

You can probably look for an email from me maybe every two to four weeks, and no more. I don’t want to spam you, and it’ll be a bit before enough happens in every given week to merit such a thing.

But please: if you’re interested in Gaming Ballistic as a company that sells products, rather than just a nifty blog, sign up!

 

I was invited by Jasyn Jones and John McGlynn to join them on their Geek Gab podcast to talk about Dungeon Grappling, after I posted my GenCon reports about the playtest.

Well, yeah, we covered grappling. But we also covered GURPS, the DFRPG, game design principles, and many other things, including HEMA and how useful first-hand research can be if you can do it. Roland Warzecha’s Dimicator videos got honorable mention. We talked a lot of 5e, some Pathfinder, a bit of Fate, and WEG’s d6 and GUMSHOE got a nod. I talked quite a bit about Dragon Heresy.

I had a great time, and we spoke for about 75 minutes. I talk kinda fast, but I don’t think I was incoherent, so yay.

Anyway: enjoy!

Saturday was packed for me. I was busy from 9am until 10:30pm with good important stuff. Sunday, the last day of the con, was basically open for me – a free day – until the show closed, at which point I was to help tear down the booth.

The Big Day

Well, I awoke realizing that I’d left my battle-mat in the booth. No big, assuming it was there. I beat feet over before, it turned out, that the convention hall opened, which was 9am. So I went over to my gaming room, set up early, then chatted with some of the IGDN members there. I described my grappling system to Sarah at the booth, and another member sat down, and “oohed” and “aahhed” over my book, which was on the table. She opened it up and started avidly reading. I just grabbed a pen, signed it, and made a gift of it to her. If she’s that enthusiastic, she can have one! Continue reading “GenCon: The Big, The Free, and The Teardown”

About a week until GenCon, so what’s kickin’ in the hopper at Gaming Ballistic, LLC?

Dungeon Grappling and the Grappling Smackdown

To date, other than the 300 or so Kickstarter copies of Dungeon Grappling, I’ve moved 87 more via DriveThruRPG, of which nine were physical product. I’ve also sold 20 through my website, with a much higher fraction  (50%) procuring physical copies. My participation with the Indie Game Designer’s Network has moved a few more physical books (four, I believe). I have not sold a single copy through Amazon CreateSpace, and given how much of a pain it was to re-do the layout to their specs for active text and bleed (very large pain, with no help unless you want to pay them for a consult), I may reconsider doing that again. The print quality of CS did not blow me away, though it was a lot cheaper per copy than DriveThru. Case by case basis, I guess.

The Kickstarter itself broke even by the time all was said and done. I made a great looking book with solid rules content, paid for it all, and got it all out on time. I then ordered $662 worth of inventory. My revenue has been just north of $900, I think – which means that overall, Gaming Ballistic made about $300 in profit on a project basis.

I am, of course, substantially in the red as a company, because of things like paying for InDesign, hosting, and the remarkably non-trivial money of my own that has gone into Dragon Heresy in particular.

Still: Dungeon Grappling’s all-in profitability is on the order of 5% on a project basis.

I am still of the opinion that the Dungeon Grappling rules are very good for what they do, or at least the least-bad option of any I’ve encountered (unless as with many groups, you simply ignore grappling, which is the ultimate in rules-light play, I guess).

Which brings me to the Grappling Smackdown.  Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic Update and GenCon Grappling Smackdown”

Sorry for the extreme dearth in posting. I’ve been in Thailand since last Monday morning, and I’m still there, for work.

These trips are almost invariably two weeks long, and quite draining. Work hours are regular, but one tends to get very, very sleepy right after dinner, so it’s hard to focus on much, and certainly not focus on rules.

Still, good news: I have a draft of the Venture Beyond ruleset. I have edited and commented on all chapters but the core rules, which I’ll be getting to Real Soon Now, hopefully starting tonight.

We’re going for a fairly rules-light approach. No classes, no levels, though there’s a strong “profession” type notion running through the game. It will feel a bit like a hodge-podge of Fate, the old d6 Star Wars, LBB Traveller, plus a dose of more modern design concepts. Point-buy is primary, but we’re trying to see if there can be some random chargen and maybe even life-path options; that might need to come later.

I’m looking forward to hitting the rules section hard, because I’ve got a chance to try and avoid some of the issues or quibbles I have with other game systems, including my own Dragon Heresy, but also GURPS and others. So it should be fun, and David’s given me a solid core to work with. Once the editing and rules settle, then it’s Kickstarter time, I guess!