Dragon Heresy: The Last 48 Hours

As always, the last 48 hours of a Kickstarter are crucial. One can frequently match the first two days’ funding totals in the last two days, and for Dragon Heresy, if we did that, we’d be seriously flirting with the big stretch goal at $16,000 for an offset run with sewn binding.

We are currently sitting at roughly $11,000, with the initial funding goal having been $3,500.

But let’s back up a bit.

What is Dragon Heresy?

Dragon Heresy is a stand-alone Fantasy RPG based on a grittier take on the Fifth Edition game engine. It uses a two-level target hit roll, and differentiated between skill and endurance (“vigor”), injury (“wounds”), and retains Fifth Edition’s excellent use of Conditions, including Exhaustion. You do NOT need other Fifth Edition books to play the game; character generation, combat, social standing, flyting, grappling, wilderness and survival, and monsters are all in the book.

The setting is strongly Norse-inspired, which influences the cultures that are playable, but also the mechanics, since the vikings’ use of lightweight, buckler-gripped shields as very nearly the primary weapon heavily influenced the combat rules options.

Finally, it integrates one of the best grappling mechanics written for such games, making grappling interchangeable with striking on a blow-by-blow basis. One new player played a dragonborn berserker whose primary weapon was a net with no slowdown in play, full use of the rules, and outstandingly fun outcomes.

Tell Me More

No problem. I’ve done a lot of that – here are some additional resources for those who wish to check out the project

Podcasts and Video

Reviews

There have been two reviews of the pre-release copy of the game (it’s fully written).

  • Follow Me and Die! took a look and liked what he saw
  • Moe Tousignant is in the middle of a truly comprehensive review, and allowed me to host his first two sections on my blog
  • James Spahn (White Star and other games) took a look at a pre-release copy and liked what he saw.

The Kickstarter: What You Get

There are only a few pledge levels

  • At $5 you get a stripped down version of the combat rules in sort-of edited PDF format, with minimal layout and no art. It’s for taking the combat rules for a test drive
  • At $20 you get a full-color, hyperlinked, layered PDF
  • At $50 you get a Black and White POD hardback and the PDF
  • At the $100 sponsorship level, the hardback is upgraded to color
  • At $500, you get everything from the $100 level and I will hand-make for  you an authentic viking shield if you live within the USA. It will be fit to you up to 35.5” diameter, with hide-glued planks, Painted striðskjold battle shield with linen stitching and custom paint job1oz hide edging, linen stitching, and a hand-carved oak handle. This is basically “buy the shield and get the game for free.”

What Can You Do?

Obviously, the best thing for me is for you to head over and pledge. It’s a great game, with a great layout, and even if I do say so myself, the initial book block (the interior pages without the binding) from the most likely vendor unless we hit the big offset print goal are simply superb.

If you are interested in the game but can’t pledge, I’d ask that you share it on social media so that others that might be interested might see. Like Fifth Edition rules but want more grit? You’ll like what you see here. Like Norse mythology and vikings? You’re a prime candidate to love the game.

48 hours to go. Please check it out, and pledge if you can!

 

When I started to get quotes for printing, especially in color, I didn’t really know what I was looking to receive. But I just got a trial “book block” back from the vendor that is likely to be the printer for the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter unless we hit the $16,000 offset goal and it’s amazing.

The Specs

The book is what is referred to as digital offset, which is a bit more than Print-on-Demand, but much more suitable to low volume runs. They recommended a heavier paper than I was asking for due to the coloring, and so I said “sure.”

Then they offered to print me up a trial interior.

The paper is 140gsm silk, which is basically 95# weight.

Check out how impressive the block is at 254 pages:

Book Block Thickness
Book Block Thickness
Compared to Dracula Dossier
Compared to Dracula Dossier

(Note Dracula Dossier is sewn binding, so it’s a better book than what can be done with the above block.)

Interior Images

Following are some indifferent-quality photographs with my camera phone of the interior print quality.

First, the edge, where the chapter markers (currently not spread out) clearly bleed through and will provide a great way to find pages. We may wind up changing colors too, for a better visual reference.

Now a few images of the interior.

So the color print seems well in hand, and is a great “thank you” to all that have pledged at the “sponsor” level (Styðja). In truth, you have a backer to thank, since he suggested upgrading the sponsor level to the color print!

But this book will likely wind up about 1″ thick including the covers. I cannot wait to get final layout and content sorting done!

GURPSDay has hit 101 blogs on the roster, with the addition of Nathanael’s 3d6 and Go!

If you missed last week’s Geek Gab Game Night (During the Day) with Kromm and Cole, listen to it here.

Welcome to GURPSDay 2018, and the fourth year – GURPSDay started in February 2013, only a year after I started Gaming Ballistic.

Thursday is GURPSDay, and here's the blog roll for the week ending April 5 2018We still need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list! With the advent of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, there’s even more reason to write.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.

Final Note: Moe Lane, Patrick Burroughs, and Merlin Avery: your blogs are not pulling. Call the office.
Continue reading “101 Blogs! GURPSDay Summary Apr 20, 2018 – Apr 26, 2018”

Moe Tousignant has a rep for thorough and detailed reviews. We’ve been in each others’ gaming orbits for a while, as he discussed below. When his dance card came up empty after reviewing James Spahn’s White Start, I teased him about reviewing Dragon Heresy.

He accepted.

He’s working through the preliminary-but-playable PDF file I’ve been working with, screen-shotting, and from which the edited manuscript will emerge, eventually. He notes the fix I made to moving Alignment where it’s supposed to be under Character Background somehow didn’t “take.” A few other things need fixing as well. This is why you need an editor.

Even so, he’s posted two long examinations so far, and will continue through the book. It’s readable, it’s thorough and fair. And he’s given me permission to re-host it.

So here we go, from Moe Tousignant’s RPGaMonth Group in Google+:

My history with Dragon Heresy and first look.

I’m finally caught up. It’s the fourth month of the year and I’m starting on my fourth RPG book for #RPGaMonth. If I can finish this one by the end of April then I will actually be on schedule!

For those just joining in, I’m reading this book as part of #RPGaMonth, where the goal is to read one RPG a month for the entire year. The main drive is to get those books that have been sitting on your shelf/hard drive unread and unused for far too long off that shelf/drive and get them read or, even better get them read and run.

My history with Dragon Heresy and it’s designer, Doug Cole

That goal of getting stuff off my shelf/drive? Well, that doesn’t apply here. Dragon Heresy is new to me, as of yesterday. Actually right now it’s kind of new to everyone. Well, really, it’s not new to anyone yet as it’s not actually out, or finished.

Dragon Heresy is a new fantasy RPG written by +Douglas Cole aka Gaming Ballistic. It’s up on Kickstarter right now (there will be a link at the end of this if you want to check it out).

So why am I writing about a game that’s not even finished yet? Well, it seems I must be doing something right with these reviews as Doug really liked my White Star Review and contacted me and asked if I would consider reading a pre-production copy of his new game next.

Now I’ve known Doug for as long as I’ve been on social media. From what I remember we first “met” in the Old School Gamers group on Facebook. Over time I’ve also grown to know him as That Thursday GURPSday guy, and now he’s becoming that Dragon Heresy guy (and with that, the Viking shield making guy).

I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with Doug so agreed to give Dragon Heresy a read. So take this as my full disclosure. While I don’t know Doug personally, as in, in real life (we’ve never met), I do know and respect him through our online interactions. Also, he did send me a pre-production copy of this game. Will that affect my thoughts on the game itself, I don’t think so, but it is something to consider when reading my thoughts on Dragon Heresy.

What I know going in

Due to the fact Doug was on pretty much every RPG podcast ever created in the last few weeks, I’ve heard quite a bit about Dragon Heresy. I know it uses Dungeons & Dragons 5e as it’s base. I know it’s more crunchy than D&D 5e. I know it’s about Vikings but still keeps all the magic and fantasy and I know that you don’t need to own D&D 5e to use it. It’s a standalone game. That’s pretty much it.

What is going to make this review interesting is that I have not read Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Yes, you read that right. I don’t play nor have I read the worlds most popular roleplaying game. For shame. Now I did do the whole D&D Next playtest, back when it was just the Caves of Chaos and Fighters still did damage on a miss. I’ve also got a ton of XP with D&D 4th Edition, 3.5 edition, and AD&D 2nd Edition. So it’s not like Fantasy D20 games are new to me. But I thought it worth noting that I haven’t played/read 5e so in some cases I’m not going to know if a rule in Dragon Heresy is new or something straight from the D&D 5e core rules.

First Look

Obviously, Dragon Heresy isn’t done yet and that needs to be taken into consideration for the entirety of this review. I’m dealing with PDF files here and not physical books.

That said, I was very impressed by how far along the game is. There’s art. It’s laid out. It’s full color. It looks like a complete RPG. Which I have to admit is awesome to see for a Kickstarter. When I received files from Monte Cook for playtesting they were just word documents. I really wasn’t expecting to see something this polished.

The book (you still call it a book when dealing with PDF’s right?) looks beautiful. It’s two-column justified text that looks to flow well. Most charts are in line as is most of the art (with a few bigger images squeezing one column or the other). I’m not sure if more art is coming but there are some sections where it’s a bit sparse, I found one section where it’s 12 pages between pieces of art. The art that is there is solid and appears to feature multiple artists (one of the pages I don’t have are the credits).

As expected from a book based on D&D, it looks like a large portion of the book is dedicated to spells and monsters. It’s also worth noting this is a one book system. No separate campaign book or monster manual. It does look like there’s still art coming for the Monsters as I didn’t notice any during my flip through the book.

First Impressions

My first thought as I scrolled quickly through the Dragon Heresy PDF was: man this looks like a complete game. As I got near the end I noticed there was still some layout to be done and art missing but overall it looks done, at least as far as the rules are concerned.

I haven’t actually read any rules or anything more than some random headings so I can’t speak about any of that yet, but I can say this is going to be a great looking game once it releases.

Now we just need to see how the rules look… next time.

Part 2 Covering: Introduction, Core Mechanics, Creature Characteristics, Ability Scores, Generating Characters, Character Races, Character Classes, Character Background, Beyond 1st Level and Equipment Continue reading “Moe Tousignant Reviews Dragon Heresy (preview edition)”

As of this morning, 60 of 196 eligible voters have filled out the additional content voting form. Thank you!

Currently, here’s the tally:

  • Several Alternate Combat Rules (2000 words) in the lead with 184 points
  • Skald Class (2000 words) with 140 points
  • All Cleric Domains (3,000 words) with 109 points
  • Berserker Path of Primal Runes (650 words) with 107 points
  • Feats (3700 words) with 99 points
  • Four Additional Backgrounds (2,700 words) with 96 points
  • Shield Size and Type (1,100 words) with 94 points

The next point totals below that are 73 points and it drops rapidly from there.

The above list has more than the 10,000 allotted words I can probably fit, but I wanted to show you the tally.

Commentary

Big shields and small shields and magic shields and . . . The feats are fun, but also the most potentially issue-filled part of any rules addition. They have to be carefully considered and balanced, which is fine. I’ve got a calculator for combat feats that can help things.

The backgrounds, in my limited experience, are a bit like starting equipment. Soon forgotten after play starts. Other folks’ experience may vary, of course, and since this game focuses on Level 1-5 play, the characters aren’t that far from their backgrounds in the game.

The additional shield rules are fun, and a key component of the game. They enable having bucklers to tower shields, metal reinforcement, and discuss what happens with a magical shield. They are, however, more fiddle. That being said, thus far “more fiddle” is winning the contents, so there’s that.

Additional Rules

I honestly didn’t expect this one to hit the top (at least thus far), but here are the additional rules topics:

  • Stacked Advantage/Disadvantage: Rolling 3d20 or more when conditions apply
  • Facing and Flanking: Rules for what constitutes each. Has illustrations which make this more bulky in terms of page count.
  • Weapon Heft: What happens when you try and parry a greataxe with a dagger
  • Lethality Switches: Disallowing frantic defense and more realistic healing rates
  • DEX and STR in Combat: DEX for attack rolls, STR for damage. STR bonuses for strong bows fits here too

Winding Down

So that’s where we stand! If projections continue, we’ll finish the Kickstarter around $13,000, which is pretty cool. Not “guaranteed offset print run” cool, but pretty cool nonetheless.

As always, a bit of social media boosting helps, and in particular, it would not take many Favorite Local Game Stores to make retail orders to make that print run happen. That’s a win for everyone.

I’m still looking at improving the quality of the books. I should be getting quotes in mid-week, but these things are unpredictable.

More news as events warrant.

More later, but thank you all so much for helping the project hit its first stretch goal.

My goals tend to be major, and far apart. This one is no different, and the extra content survey will go out sometime today. Maybe quite quickly, since my day job computer refuses to boot up anymore.

Thanks again to all who have pledged

Dungeon Grappling gets a shout-out

I got a very nice review of my first book, Dungeon Grappling, over at Steven E’s video review channel Complete Nonsense. The philosophy and spirit animating the rules were the same as with Dragon Heresy: get it fun, get it fast, get it right. That came through to the reviewer, who said nice things about the book.

Next Goal!

The next official goal is the offset print run at $16,000. That’s not impossible if we get an uptick in velocity. On the other hands, as I mentioned earlier, I’m starting to get some very interesting print quotes in, with more expected this week. I’ll see how things shake out, but I’m cautiously optimistic that fun things might happen at $12,000 instead of $16,000, even if not full-on offset run awesome is a bit distant.

For now, spread the word, and let’s press on. That next goal is only 12 skjald-hirð pledges, 60 Styðja, or about 125 more folks if the average pledge holds. That’s just not that many folks in the grand scheme of things. Spread the word, and let’s make an even better book.

Thanks again!

Stretch Goal Approaching Rapidly

As of right now, we are only $160 from passing the “Additional Content” Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter stretch goal at $10,000, and the odds that we will pass that goal given a full week left seem good.

With that in mind, here are the options that will fill up the survey for “what do you want included?”

Notes

  • I have room for about 9,900 additional words, give or take
  • ALL the backgrounds together are about 9,400 words
  • There is no way to include ALL of the new classes
  • The new spellcasting classes will come with additional spells (of course) that are NOT included in wordcount.
  • The Warlock in particular will be particularly ugly; if this is a top choice other things may go by the wayside
  • The example of the Runic Barbarian has already appeared in an update/blog post
  • Most of the additional rules content falls into the category of highly optional rules. They’ll go into a section called “AppendX” as in “X-perimental”
  • The skald is a nordic bard; the trevinur is a nordic druid. Sorta.
  • The ranger is NOT a spellcaster or a shape-changer. There are scouts and skirmishers. If you want magic-using rangers you’ll want multi-classing

So, that’s it. The survey will ask that you give me your favorite 8,000-10,000 words to include. I’ll see what I can do to automate it a bit.

Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: List of Additional Content Possibilities”

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”

Greetings, fellow Torengur! We’re entering the third weekend of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Kickstarter, and things look pretty good.

Another Skjald-hirð Joins the Battle!

We had a great day yesterday, driven largely by another stalwart joining the ranks of the Skjald-hirð. He’s asked for a sweet, sweet paint job on his shield, too. Dark blue background, with a gold torc, one boar-head, one deer-head, holding the Ingwaz rune between them. All of these symbolize Freyr, who is Yngwi Lifegiver in Dragon Heresy.

This is a personal shield project I just finished, and except the boss (which I used because I had it; it’s too heavy and too large by far), is a good example of what the shields will look like. The heads here are dragon heads. I can do boars, ravens, dragons, bears, stags, and wolves.

The dragon-torc of house Iyiling
The dragon-torc of house Iyiling

The ansuz-rune is the rune of the Asfolk martial arts school at which I’m learning viking-style fighting. You can see the school and me throwing an axe here in the designer’s notes video.

Progress

In the background things are moving in terms of production. I got the first edits from Vince in the mail yesterday, looked them over, and found them worthy. He’s tightening up my language and poking at holes in the thought process.

The entire pre-production team: layout, editing, and indexing, is now being brought in on the communications so we can parallel process the assembly and finalization of the book.

That being said, there are things yet to do, by me, from a writing perspective.

  • I’ve got a neat idea for a way to differentiate between combat prowess and reputation and status. Think of it as an alternate take on “gold for XP” from the old-school days.
  • I am determined to write and add a small section on flyting – a poetic ritual exchange of insults common in viking lore and culture that provides another avenue to victory other than murder-hoboism. Between fisticuffs, weapons, grappling, and flyting, there are many options for dispute and challenge resolution in Dragon Heresy, which is outstanding.
  • Finally, I’m going through the monster section and adding “Identify Fiend or Foe” blocks, where the GM will be provided suggestions for tactically useful elements that can be known about monsters and other foes based on background and skill level.

All of this will be worked into the book, and much of it is already budgeted in terms of space and layout, so that won’t change the basic 256-page book size.

Stretch Goals

As of me typing this, the campaign is just shy of $700 off the $10,000 “more content” stretch goal. If we pass it, I’ll send out a survey to backers with some options of what I can include, which will push the size of the book upward a bit.

Once the ship is completed, what fine adventures we will have!I’m not quite ready to formally re-arrange my published stretch goals yet . . . but some quotes came in from printers that were very compelling. Very.

This has led me to look at options for standard and deluxe printing for the Jarl and Styðja tiers that may take a few more days to lock down.

I’ll tell you this, though: the numbers $12,000 and $16,000 are very significant. There’s another point at about $14,500 that’s significant to me as a publisher but not so much to y’all as backers.

I’m iterating with a few different folks on super-cool things to add for your pledge to the $100 tier. Faux-leather covers, or custom slip-cover, or just a deluxe printing with a dust jacket are all being considered. No decisions yet, and being that it’s bearing down hard on quitting time in the EU (all of the super-aggressive bids are from either the UK or Latvia) on a Friday, I might not be able to confirm much before early next week.

But I’m looking for ways to make both the Jarl and Styðja levels even more appealing. Skjald-hirð backers will get anything the Styðja level gets, of course!

The Final Countdown

This it is, and we’re into single digits. Now it’s in the hands of the Norns.

We’re tracking to around $14,000 if things keep on as they’ve been and we hit an uptick the last few days, which is typical. I still hope we can see enough acceleration to hit that offset print goal – I won’t lie to you: I dream of holding that book as specified in my hands!

For now, have a great weekend, and may all your raids be profitable!