I’ve got two dozen pieces of art being worked on Dragon Heresy. I am starting to get either final products or color Wcore-b-finalIP. I thought I’d tease some examples.

The first is a small illustration that will likely appear next to a table on setting difficulty for tasks. My art direction asked for a dented helmet. Oh, it called for a lot more than that, but it’s a tiny picture, and it was the helmet that was key.

The artwork is by Gennifer Bone – I like the color palette used here, and the blend of the metal helmet and the mail face and neck guard. The final illustration will only be 1.5 x 2″ or so, so it’s a lot larger in this image than it will be in the book.

She’s working three more images for me. My 7yo daughter saw the two big ones (full-column illustrations that end the Core Concepts chapter) and went nuts. So mission accomplished there!

The second sneak peek is a Work in Progress by Juan Ochoa. He’s working the basic Races chapter, and we’ve been interacting very heavily to ensure that the culture and look I’ve written for each race gets imaged on the page.teaser02

The excerpt is a screen shot from what is starting to look like four of my “iconic” characters in the book. It shows a barbarian, ranger, druid, and monk. The barbarian has his hands on a longship he’s commissioned. The druid is not so sure this is all a good idea. The picture shows a zoom-in of the detail on the characters.

The scene is in winter, and while the three characters on the left are dressed fairly warmly, the only concession our monk makes to the cold is pretty much socks underneath her wrestling sandals. There’s a lot of character to each individual, and we’ll be seeing these four again.

Over on The October Geek, the author posts about Monster Knowledge. I thought I’d throw down the relevant section from Dragon Heresy’s The Book of Heroes as a Sneak Peek.

Identify Fiend or Foe

One of the things players will inevitably ask about the screaming horrors emerging from hiding to do terrible things unto them is “what do we know about this creature’s strengths and weaknesses?”

Some of this knowledge is hard-won, and might only be known to the party if they’ve faced a particular threat before. But legends travel, and stories are told, of all manner of creatures. When asked, consider making an Intelligence check with the following guidelines. Only one check can be made per monster type unless you spend the time to dig up hidden lore.

Arcana will most frequently yield useful details about Aberrations (maybe), Constructs, Dragons, Elementals, and Monstrosities. However, some undead are created by powerful magic, and that might apply. Any creature with a reputation or history that makes them vulnerable (or not) to certain types of magical damage might have that known by making an Arcana check.

History will be useful for any type of creature that creates a civilization with a legacy and memory. Mostly Humanoids and Giants – but if a dragon decides to set herself up as Queen of a far-flung land, that territory’s stories, legends, conquests, and defeats will become part of the lore of the world.

Nature will tell for Beasts, Fey, Giants, Humanoids, and Plants. Some long-ago creations that have flourished and become part of an established ecology might also qualify (‘oh, the falcon-bear is native to these parts!’).

Religion will give some details about Celestials, Fiends, and Undead.

Take care to consider a character’s backstory when deciding what skills to use. A necromancer would certainly know about the dead and undead using his Arcana skill, while a cleric or paladin might have the same knowledge through Religion, and a bard via stories and songs passed down with the History skill.

Hidden Lore

Finding information about a particular creature is a matter of sifting through books, stories, rumors, and experience to determine what is known. Details such as overall appearance and behavior – such as determining what kind of monster is actually trying to eat you – might be an Easy or Medium task. Revealing tactically useful information should be harder (Medium to Hard), and doing that in the heat of combat should increase the difficulty level by at least one! The GM might give out one fact for making the roll, and more for each 5 points by which the ability check is made, or some other rationing of tactically-useful data.

Importing from Blogger

Well, sometimes the right answer is just “chill the heck out.”

Blogger Importer Extended was updated very recently, and is now compatible with WordPress 4.6.1

So if you have the time, you can just click “go” and it’ll bring in what you need without having to resort to a roll-back.

I am currently importing, and while it (with good reason) bypassed the stuff I’d already done, it has made great progress on the images and links. I’ll probably let it run overnight, and hopefully it’ll complete.

So if you’re looking for a solution – now you have one.

One other thing

I have obviously been the recipient of some of Daniel’s efforts, as the site is now looking a heck of a lot more like what it’s supposed to. We’ll be playing a bit more with it, since we’ve got a nice list of categories that we’ll be using.

Continue reading “Importing from Blogger and GB Site Update”

This weekend was, in a word, good.

Dungeon Grappling

 
I did a triple-whammy. I finished a draft late Friday night that I thought – despite being bleary-eyed – was quite good. My readers confirmed it was the best version yet.
But the next day, one of my readers ran through a PFRPG fight with some purpose built grapple-monsters, both PCs and critters.
Whoa. Not good. The problem is that the source material – OSR D&D in various flavors – is fairly low in the HP department, and Dragon Heresy uses other stats to differentiate wounds from vigor, and control from vigor.
So converting over using HP to get to PFRPG or Fifth Edition? No. Does not work.
I real-timed it with Cole, and realized that at least for the moment, a new value for the grappling version of HP was needed. Came up with one, and that tested well. I knew it wasn’t quite right, and kept working while the playtest was going on. Found a good solution for all of the games treated, and realized (via math, backed up by 8 months of playtests) why Dragon Heresy not once had this problem.
Anyway, rewrote the drafts and got that into the hands of my layout and indexing guys. Wound up at 17,100 words, which (if we use the same layout template as Dragon Heresy) will turn into about 32 pages, which is right where I want to end up. That probably means about 16 – 20 pieces of art. We’ll see – it’s why I like to do a preliminary layout pass – to see where things need to go.
But once the fix was done, the feedback was:

Continue reading “Writing and Art for GB products”

I’ve decided that I’m going to post a weekly update on the goings on with Gaming Ballistic (the company). So here’s the first installment!

 

Company Administration



Making good use of the legal contracts for purchasing services that I sourced early in setting up the company. Thus far, the contract format and pay terms have found favor with folks. I’ve used it perhaps five times thus far (an editor, two contributors, and two artists) and will likely be needing to use it three more times in the near future (one contributor, two artists).

I am going to Gencon in 2017! I intend to try and be there the entire week. I will need to get some advice and secure some booth space, a banner, and ensure I have some games to distribute! I may also need some help manning the booth while I’m off playing in the Dungeon Fantasy RPG game with the SJG folks, including several folks I’ve known for a long time, even gamed with, but never met in person. That should be a fun but exhausting time. I hear hotel reservations are rough that week, too. Advice will be appreciated.

Progress still continues to be made in the “website improvement” front over at the future location of the Gaming Ballistic company site. The graphics are good, we’re playing with fonts, and the color scheme is terrible, but that’s a known and easy fix. The key next bit is to add an eCommerce feature or capability to the site, so that it can support upcoming activities. We’re also going to clean up the menu bar and make it a bit more readable. Still – good progress has been made there.

Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic LLC – Weekly update (10/14/2016)”

Part of the challenge of the SRD5.1 is that all of the flavor text – or very nearly all of it – has been cut out of the document. It’s nearly all stat blocks and mechanics.

Part of the fun of the SRD5.1 is that all of the flavor text – or very nearly all of it – has been cut out of the document. It’s nearly all stat blocks and mechanics.

It really gives me a chance to shape each monster, race, and culture to fit within the game.

+Chris Mata noted that he loves elementals in my update post from Wednesday, so I promised to share. So, without further ado, here’s some of the goods on Elementals . . . but first a few notes.

I’ve played a bit fast and loose with Norse cosmology and the shape/interpretation of the Nine Realms to accommodate my needs. Most departures from the classic myths are purposeful.

I’m trying to get just the basics of each critter – because there are over 150 such monsters (more like 170) in the book, and that’s after some serious culling. Each should leave you with a basic description, a feel for appearance, where you might find it/ it’s natural habitat, and some notion of its behavior, which in many cases is “how does it fight, or does it flee?”

Some creatures, which play larger roles in the game setting, have much longer writeups.

Elementals
The elementals are creatures hailing from Niflheim, the elemental
realm. While common wisdom has Niflheim as an eternal realm of ice and cold,
that is only part of the attributes of the place. There are many elemental
archetypes and creatures that hail from this realm, and many powerful magics
and deadly dangers can be found and summoned from that place.
Most elementals are perfectly happy to remain in their home
realm, and are frequently distinctly unhappy
to be called forth from that place. The pure elementals of air, water, and
earth do not come willingly or exist peacefully in the physical world of Etera,
and are constantly wishing to return home. The fire elementals . . . are a bit
more eager to remain.
The essence of movement and force, the air elemental can appear
as visibly as a swirling tornado, or as subtly as a fog rolling in or an errant
breeze.
Its natural habitat is Niflheim, and it spends time in the Realms
of the Field only reluctantly, usually through a summoning spell.
If it is commanded to do so magically, it may attack or be
performing some service. It will cooperate with attempts to free it back to its
home realm.
Large elemental, neutral
Speed 0 ft., fly 90 ft. (hover)
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
14
20
14
6
10
6
+2
+5
+2
-2
0
-2
Defenses
Wound Thresholds
Threat DC
15
Morale
Injury
KO
Death
Hit DC
26
0-6
7-12
13-24
25+
DR
0
Control Thresholds
Vigor
90
Grab
Grapple
Restr.
Incap.
Vigor Dice
12d10+24
0-7
8-14
15-28
29+
Proficiency +3

Damage
Resistances.
Lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from
nonmagical attacks
Damage
Immunities.
Poison
Condition
Immunities.
Exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone,
restrained, unconscious
Senses.
Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages.
Auran
Challenge
5
(1,800 XP)
Air Form. The
elemental can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. It can move
through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.
Fog and Breeze. When
not engaged in combat or filled with violent intent, the Air Elemental appears
either as a rolling fog, or a disturbance in the air – a rogue breeze or errant
wind. It stands out against the background, however – it is DC 15 to detect in
an environment that should not have any breezes or fog, and DC 20 where such
effects are expected.
Actions
Multiattack. The
elemental makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon
Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) bludgeoning
damage.
Whirlwind (Recharge 4–6).
Each creature in the elementals space must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw.
On a failure, a target takes 15 (3d8 + 2) bludgeoning damage and is flung up 20
feet away from the elemental in a random direction and knocked prone. If a
thrown target strikes an object, such as a wall or floor, the target takes 3
(1d6) bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it was thrown. If the target is
thrown at another creature, that creature must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity
saving throw or take the same damage and be knocked prone.
If the saving throw is successful, the target takes half the
bludgeoning damage and isn’t flung away or knocked prone.
From the plains of Niflheim, the Earth elemental contains within
it the essence of rock and stone. It most frequently appears as a creature of
animated boulders, or a giant mobile pile of gravel or even dust.
When fighting, it appears as a humanoid creature of stone, but
that appearance can shift suddenly, as it changes form when it uses its earth
glide ability.
As with most elementals, the Earth elemental dwells on Midgard
reluctantly, and will mostly cooperate with attempts to aid it to return back
to Niflheim. It is usually not hostile unless commanded to be, but when balked
can be a steady and relentless foe.
Large elemental, neutral
Speed 30 ft., burrow 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
20
8
20
5
10
5
+5
-1
+5
-3
0
-3
Defenses
Wound Thresholds
Threat DC
9
Morale
Injury
KO
Death
Hit DC
20
0-9
10-18
19-37
38+
DR
8
Control Thresholds
Vigor
126
Grab
Grapple
Restr.
Incap.
Vigor Dice
12d10+60
0-7
8-14
15-28
29+
*natural armor

Proficiency +3

Damage
Vulnerabilities.
Thunder
Damage
Resistances.
Bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage
Immunities.
Poison
Condition
Immunities.
Exhaustion, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, unconscious
Senses.
Darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages.
Terran
Challenge
5
(1,800 XP)
Earth Glide. The
elemental can burrow through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone. While doing
so, the elemental doesn’t disturb the material it moves through.
Siege Monster. The
elemental deals double damage to objects and structures.
Actions
Multiattack. The
elemental makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon
Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) bludgeoning
damage.
Alone of all the elementals, the fire elemental relishes its time
on Midgard and the other Realms of the Field. Always seeking and hungry, fire
elementals unbound and unchecked are extremely dangerous and as unpredictable
as the fire of which they are comprised.
Fire elementals appear as wreathing, mobile, darting flames that
can seem to burn without needing fuel. They will happily consume anything that
burns, however, and will naturally seek out the most flammable objects they
can.
In combat, the elemental can be highly unpredictable, and is
known to go from being fixated on one target to flitting from foe to foe
randomly.
Large elemental, neutral
Speed 50 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
10
17
16
6
10
7
0
+3
+3
-2
0
-2
Defenses
Wound Thresholds
Threat DC
13
Morale
Injury
KO
Death
Hit DC
24
0-6
7-12
13-24
25+
DR
0
Control Thresholds
Vigor
102
Grab
Grapple
Restr.
Incap.
Vigor Dice
12d10+36
0-4
5-9
10-19
20+
Proficiency +3

Damage
Resistances.
Bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage
Immunities.
Fire, poison
Condition
Immunities.
Exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone,
restrained, unconscious
Senses.
Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages.
Ignan
Challenge
5
(1,800 XP)
Fire Form. The
elemental can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.
A creature that touches the elemental or hits it with a melee attack while
within 5 feet of it takes 5 (1d10) fire damage. In addition, the elemental can
enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. The first time it enters a
creatures space on a turn, that creature takes 5 (1d10) fire damage and catches
fire; until someone takes an action to douse the fire, the creature takes 5
(1d10) fire damage at the start of each of its turns.
Illumination. The
elemental sheds bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light in an additional
30 feet.
Water Susceptibility.
For every 5 feet the elemental moves in water, or for every gallon of water
splashed on it, it takes 1 cold damage.
Actions
Multiattack. The
elemental makes two touch attacks.

Touch. Melee Weapon
Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) fire damage. If
the target is a creature or a flammable object, it ignites. Until a creature
takes an action to douse the fire, the target takes 5 (1d10) fire damage at the
start of each of its turns.
The water elemental hails from one of the four corners of
elemental Niflheim, and as with many elementals, wishes for little else but to
return there.
Water elementals resemble large pools of water if they can sit in
a depression, but on flat ground they are fairly conspicuous, appearing as
large coherent spheroids or other shapes of water that should absolutely not be
looking or behaving the way that it is.
As with other “pure” elementals, the water elemental is only
present in the Realms of the Field because it was summoned there, or by
accident (stumbling across a rift, or one of those annoying vortexes in
space-time that crop up now and then).
In combat, the water elemental will usually move to the largest
cluster of foes and attempt to grapple and drown as many as it can, usually two
at a time. It is more comfortable in depressions than on terrain where water
would naturally flow away (the top of a ridge), but that is a matter of
preference rather than any mechanical effect.
Large elemental, neutral
Speed 30 ft., swim 90 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
18
14
18
5
10
8
+4
+2
+4
-3
0
-1
Defenses
Wound Thresholds
Threat DC
12
Morale
Injury
KO
Death
Hit DC
23
0-8
9-16
17-33
34+
DR
2
Control Thresholds
Vigor
114
Grab
Grapple
Restr.
Incap.
Vigor Dice
12d10+48
0-7
8-15
16-30
31+
*natural armor

Proficiency +3

Damage
Resistances.
Acid; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical
attacks
Damage
Immunities.
Poison
Condition
Immunities.
Exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone,
restrained, unconscious
Senses.
Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages.
Aquan
Challenge
5
(1,800 XP)
Water Form. The
elemental can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. It can move
through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing. Detecting a water
elemental in another body of water is nearly impossible. It is a DC 20
perception check to discern such while it is moving, and DC 25 if it is still.
Freeze. If the elemental
takes cold damage, it partially freezes; its speed is reduced by 20 feet until
the end of its next turn.
Actions
Multiattack. The
elemental makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon
Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning
damage.
Whelm (Recharge 4–6).
Each creature in the elementals space must make a DC 15 Strength saving throw.
On a failure, a target takes 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If it is Large or
smaller, it is also grappled (escape DC 14). Until this grapple ends, the
target is restrained and unable to breathe unless it can breathe water. If the
saving throw is successful, the target is pushed out of the elementals space.
The elemental can grapple one Large creature or up to two Medium
or smaller creatures at one time. At the start of each of the elementals turns,
each target grappled by it takes 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. A creature
within 5 feet of the elemental can pull a creature or object out of it by
taking an action to make a DC 14 Strength and succeeding.
While some elementals are brought for benign reasons to the
Realms of the Field, the Invisible Stalker is always brought for one purpose:
to hunt and kill some quarry.
The invisible stalker is a limited form of air elemental, but has
sacrificed some of its cousin’s offensive power (the whirlwind attack) for true
invisibility, except for the exact moment it attacks. Even then, it is a DC 15
perception check to see the
“thickening” of the air that occurs when the creature uses its melee attack.
It is the attack itself that is visible (and very audible!),
however, and once it moves away from the target, it becomes invisible again.
Stalkers are not always summoned to evil intent, but they are always brought to the Realms of the Field
for lethal intent. Unlike many other
creatures, an Invisible Stalker will not stop attacking its target until it has
reached more than double its wound maximum – it beats its target until it is
defeated or the foe is broken and unmoving on the ground.
Medium elemental, neutral
Speed 50 ft., fly 50 ft. (hover)
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
16
19
14
10
15
11
+3
+4
+2
0
+2
0
Defenses
Wound Thresholds
Threat DC
14
Morale
Injury
KO
Death
Hit DC
25
0-4
5-8
9-17
18+
DR
0
Control Thresholds
Vigor
104
Grab
Grapple
Restr.
Incap.
Vigor Dice
16d8+32
0-5
6-10
11-20
21+
Proficiency +3

Skills.
Perception +8, Stealth +10
Damage
Resistances.
Bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage
Immunities.
Poison
Condition
Immunities.
Exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone,
restrained, unconscious
Senses.
Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 18
Languages.
Auran, understands Common but doesn’t speak it
Challenge
6
(2,300 XP)
Invisibility. The stalker
is invisible.
Faultless Tracker. The
stalker is given a quarry by its summoner. The stalker knows the direction and
distance to its quarry as long as the two of them are on the same plane of
existence. The stalker also knows the location of its summoner.
Actions
Multiattack. The
stalker makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon
Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) thunder damage.
Ice Alf
The Ice Alf, like the fire elemental, is one of those rare
elementals that wants to be on the
Realms of the Field. It is, of course, not an “alf” at all – it has no
relationship to the svartalfs, other than being of similar size.
It is said that at a time long ago, an air elemental and a water
elemental chanced to meet in the Frostharrow. Perhaps under the influence of
the Winterfae, they combined, and from that union came a creature that not only
was an embodiment of living ice, but it wanted to see all things frozen.
The Ice Alf resembles a semi-humanoid cluster of icicles, but its
many frozen parts settle naturally into a formation that is indistinguishable
from other ice formations around it when it is unmoving. For this reason, Ice Alfs
tend to make their homes near cliffs where icy runoff forms icicles and mounds
of ice on the ground. The Ice Alf takes advantage of this to lay ambushes.
These elementals are “native” to the Frostharrow, but can be
found in any region where the ice lays thickly on the land.
These elementals are universally hostile, and will seek to attack
any warm-blooded creature that comes near. They will not, however, attack
Winterfae and Alfar, and will not attack elves first (half-elves seem to
inspire no fear or aversion in them) if other potential targets are available.
Small elemental, neutral evil
Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
7
13
10
9
11
12
-2
+1
0
-1
0
+1
Defenses
Wound Thresholds
Threat DC
11
Morale
Injury
KO
Death
Hit DC
21
0-1
2-3
4-6
7+
DR
0
Control Thresholds
Vigor
21
Grab
Grapple
Restr.
Incap.
Vigor Dice
6d6
0-1
2-3
4-6
7+
Proficiency +2

Skills.
Perception +2, Stealth +3
Damage
Vulnerabilities.
Bludgeoning, fire
Damage
Immunities.
Cold, poison
Condition
Immunities.
Poisoned
Senses.
Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages.
Aquan, Auran
Challenge
1/2
(100 XP)
Death Burst. When the alf
dies, it explodes in a burst of jagged ice. Each creature within 5 feet of it
must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw, taking 4 (1d8) slashing damage on a
failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
False Appearance. While
the alf remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from an ordinary shard of
ice.
Innate Spellcasting
(1/Day).
The alf can innately cast fog cloud, requiring no material
components. Its innate spellcasting ability is Charisma.
Actions
Claws. Melee Weapon
Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) slashing damage
plus 2 (1d4) cold damage.
Frost Breath (Recharge 6).
The alf exhales a 15-foot cone of cold air. Each creature in that area must
succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw, taking 5 (2d4) cold damage on a
failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

A quick Dragon Heresy update.

Things are moving along, and monsters are being written. I’m super-excited about my lizardfolk writeup, and the elementals and giants are pretty fun too. Actually, the undead are kinda awesome. Anyway, having a specific setting to tie monsters into is a great creative aid.

In other news, I got some feedback on the magnitude of the project which has . . . given me pause isn’t exactly right, but it’s not wrong either. “Hey, here’s a new company, doing a SRD5.1 project that is probably 700-750 pages in two volumes” is a big ask.

So I’m going to try something different. I’m going to rip out the grappling rules from the Dragon Heresy manuscript, plus +Peter V. Dell’Orto and my “Grappling Old School” rules from Manor #8 (which also appeared in Guardians, an OSR Superhero game), and polish them up for a very small Kickstarter. 

I have many, many more words written about grappling than I can use. I have months of playtest of the system, plus all the GURPS stuff where folks have played Technical Grappling. 

I’ll get to trial my layout, give my artists (one under contract, three pending) some early paying work, my indexer and I will figure out a process there, and I’ll get to run myself through the Kickstarter process from start to finish.

Total ask? Likely less than $1,000 . . . maybe much less. 

I’m reaching out to some other authors about some add-ons for extras (all will be PDFs – this is designed to be an “instant gratification” Kickstarter unless it smashes stretch goals for “MOAR ART! COLOR ART! COOL COVER!” or whatnot, in which case you get the B/W version RTFN, and a color version when it’s done.

I will also have a “so . . . you want to help fund Dragon Heresy” set of . . . call them “elite tiers.” I’ve got ideas for this that have to do with having your face and image appear as major historical characters in the art in the DH books. Still cooking on that idea, but I’d commission art to mutually satisfactory specs (real or idealized version of you? What class? pose? that sort of thing) that fit within the scope of art direction for the book. You’d get (minimum) a signed copy of the piece. At best, it reduces what I need to fund for the DH book, as all the art can be re-used.

Anyway, I anticipate having the manuscript done by this weekend or middle of next week. Prelim layout using the DH format (simplified, I think) and density the following weekend. Then I’ll reach out to my artists and we get to see how well we all work together. 

I’m excited about this. It’s a much lower risk project than The Big One, and if successful, the OSR and SRD5.1 crowd will finally have grappling rules that don’t suck. :-)

GURPS is getting a much-needed shot in the arm thanks to the Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter. It has met and exceeded its funding goals, and the SJG team have made it so that any purchases of GURPS products on Warehouse 23 also count for “how well did the KS do” when it comes to stretch goals.

As a by-the-way, there were some last-minute goals added. They’re good.

I upped my bid to $550, committed to go to GenCon in 2017 (though that was a bit of enlightened self-interest too), and am looking forward to meeting Sean and some of my long-time collaborators in person.

Tomorrow is Thursday, which as always is GURPSDay. Since I started it in January, it’s grown to over 60 blogs, some of which post every day, others post less frequently, but we tend to average about one post per blog, or a bit less.

This means that over the last 9 full months, 36 or so weeks, there have been thousands of posts. That’s a lot of content being generated by a pretty vibrant community.

So tomorrow, a day before the Kickstarter ends, I’ll be posting the last 25 posts from each blog. That could be 1,500 links (it won’t be; WordPress only pulls the last 10, Blogger goes to 25). But you will be able to see what’s going on.

You will be tempted to join in. Start a blog. Write stuff. Show your creativity. And support the system, so that we can get more great stuff like the DF Boxed Set.

Wow. I have traveled from Minneapolis to Penang, Malaysia many times in the past. This was my first business trip to Thailand.

Bangkok is closer than Penang by a bit – maybe two hours, but for whatever reason, this trip hit me harder. Both directions, the trip was pretty tight, and accomplished in three legs. First was Minneapolis to Portland, then to Tokyo, where we landed after boarding started on my final flight. Then to Bangkok, where I then had to catch a taxi downtown instead of staying at the airport hotel, and then three-hour commute to Korat (Nakhon Ratchisma) to show up for work at 9:30am, which was pretty good, actually.

I thought I’d get a lot of writing done on the trip. I got some done – a bunch of monsters for Dragon Heresy, plus going over some playtester feedback and fixing some inconsistencies that cropped up in The Book of Heroes through the many revisions the rules have gone through.

But I was really jet lagged through the first two days, then the third day was a night out to dinner in Korat, then some more socializing the next day, and then back home. Four or five hours in traffic from Korat to Bangkok (airport hotel this time!), a few hours sleep, then the 5:55am flight to Tokyo (6 hours, maybe 6.5), then a short layover in Tokyo, then 9-10 hours to LAX, two hours in the airport, then 4 hours to Minneapolis. Would have been 3, but we had to route around some significant weather. I slept most of the first two flights, which helped me with jet lag but did not help me write, since the two activities are mutually exclusive.

Anyway, the blog has been pretty empty over the last few weeks. What’s been going on?


GURPS DF Kickstarter

The big news in GURPS Land is the success of the DF Kickstarter. It is doing reasonably well against its stretch goals, and by internet chatter it appears that it is being primarily funded by existing fans, but is also reaching some number of new folks, which is the entire point.

Still a lot of confusion over how much it costs to bring this to market out there. I can only state what I’ve found in my own research into Dragon Heresy – things are a lot more expensive than you think.

But the project is humming along, and doing well. I may yet up my pledge to the “I want it all” level of $250 from my current $155, because SJG keeps adding more to the kit.

Also, a while back I interviewed +Phil Reed via text, and +Sean Punch by video. Check them both out!

Dragon Heresy Progress


So, things are still moving, despite my whirlwind trip to Thailand. 

Editing and Layout

I’ve spoken to my hopefully-to-be editor, and I think we’re close to signing a contract, after which I’ll be able to say who it is, when the time is right. He’s not available to start until very late in the year, though, and we agreed that having him edit the work in January would be better all around. So my Kickstarter deadline just got pushed to then, and I’ll have faith in the process and run the KS at the same time as he’s editing the work.

I’ve got a layout consultation with an award-winning pro that is scheduled to come up here in a month or so, which will help +Rob Muadib refine his technique, which he can then apply to The Book of Deeds, which is the “campaign and setting and monster” book of the two-volume set.

I’ve also hired an indexer. He’s going to start working that now, then again when final edits and layout happens, so there’s the right groundwork in place to put the funded PDF to bed.

I feel I MUST have an index, a professional edit, and a layout that’s gotten a professional touch. The rest – even art – is gravy. Important gravy, but folks may forgive public domain art, but they will not forgive an unusable or unreadable manuscript.

Nor should they.

Printing and International Shipping Issues

I’ve been steadily getting quotes to suss out the different options. I’ve gotten one very interesting quote from Thomson-Shore that allows me to print a small quantity in the UK for shipment to the UK/EU zone that is on the same price curve as the US printer. So basically if I get 1,300 backers, with 1,000 in the US and 300 in the UK, I can print the first batch for $17 per book and the second for $40 per book. That would allow me to charge (roughly) $40-45 for the US price and $65 for the UK, and shipping to the UK and US would be about $5, while to the EU it seems to be around $20. Total cost would be $50 for the US, $70 for the UK, and $85 for the EU. 

That sounds bad, but at $40 for a “one price fits all” plus something like $65 for shipping a 4-lb package to Germany (!!) it’s still a savings over print-and-ship. +Jens Finkhäuser is working other options for print-and-deliver for projects like mine, but it may or may not be ready by the time I’m looking to go. Still, my research sets the bar. Also, if I got 500 EU/UK backers instead of 300, the price drops by about $10-15.

I’ve looked into similar arrangements for Australia. 

I have to think that the right way to go here is to have EU, UK, and Australia/NZ backers pledge for the full-color PDF and somehow indicate that they would like to own a print copy. Then when all is said and done, I’d have to set up a pre-order or “interest poll” on my own e-Commerce site (to be created), and then if there is enough interest, I can get bids at the right interest level, arrange a local print job, and then put a special item on sale on my future website for those residents only. What I’d like to do is basically take pre-orders in escrow until the right number is met or exceeded, then order. 

International shipping is a pain, but print local, ship local really does seem to be a thing. 

I will try and work up a few novel pricing schemes for this. Maybe something like “buy a full-price PDF, and then you get a discount on the print copy.”  Not sure – the key is that there needs to be some way to gauge how serious individuals are about the pricing, because I would only want to order enough to cover the run, plus a few more. Retailers would help me huge by ordering five or ten at a time, if they’d risk it. Hard to say.

The other way is how SJG did it – commit to shipping a pallet to a central location, and they distribute from there. That spreads the shipping out quite a bit, and allows me economies of scale by doing one big print run.

Still: as the old SNL skit goes, it’s all about volume.

Art and Artists


I’ve got two lined up. I have sent out a retainer check to one, and I need to get my butt in gear and put up some guidelines for the other – I’ve been telling her “work is coming!” for so long it’s irritating (more so to her than me, I suspect), but I’m feeling better about where the progress and timing are, so I feel like I can start some art buying. It’ll help with the advertisements and Kickstarter promo.

I’ve also taken final delivery of my maps. There’s a sample to the right to show the style, but I’m quite pleased with the work Cornelia did on it. I’ve got color and black and white maps, so that I can make a fast-loading Black-and-White PDF and a full-color PDF for (a) people that just like color, and (b) it sets me up for the full-color print run.

I still believe I will need something like 350 pieces of art, so the two artists I’ve referred to are only the beginning.

Writing Progress

The monsters are the thing, and they’re progressing. I got such a good contribution from one of my playtesters in terms of finished work that I’m giving him Additional Material credit in the game. And compensating him, because good work gets paid.

I’ve got fluff text now for Undead (12), NPCs (22), Giants (5), Elementals (6), Fae (13), and Constructs (3). 

When I say “fluff text,” I of course mean “description of monster, appearance of the creature, what the habitat of the creature is, and a general outline of its behavior, including favored combat tactics.”

Still a lot to go, here, but bit by bit it’s getting done. I also culled the monster list by about 20,000 words, because it was too long as it was. I may yet cull more. My goal is to have both books come in at around 200,000 words, or 350-370 pages. That’s “Monster Manual” size, for reference.

The Book of Heroes also got a full reading by a few testers, and we’re resolving some inconsistencies that were introduced through version iteration. And one or two new rules, and at least one structure change, where “that should not be in equipment; that’s a combat rule” reared its head. The book is better for it.

Parting Shot

Ultimately, I’m shooting for a January Kickstarter, PDF availability in Feb/March, and print copies, if any, within a month of PDF release. We’ll see how that goes, but I really want to have the whole thing wrapped up by the end of March 2017.

Oh, and I’m also getting my website revamped. You can catch a glimpse of what the new thing will be like here. It’s not done, and more to go, but it’s yet another step on the way to making both my company and my game a reality.

This thursday, Sept 23, there will be only a single GURPSDay pull, done likely around 9pm CST. If in the past you’ve timed your posts to get picked up in the late pull I usually do around 10-11pm CST, that won’t happen. Also, running the script in the morning will also not occur. 

Just a fair warning – GURPSDay will happen, just a bit more sparse than usual. Next week we’re back to normal.

dhc