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)”

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. :-)

Thursday is GURPSDay. We’re entering the last day of the Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter. It fully funded during Day 16, about four days ago, and is still going strong. It looks to be pushing to around $155,000 plus another $30K from W23 sales, which gives us the 180,000 stretch goal of a month of Pyramid (one issue) for all backers who pledge $50 or more.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last 10-25 posts for every blog that has posted. This is a lot of posts – the GURPS blogging community has picked up rather a lot of steam recently, a phenomenon I hope that GURPSDay has helped with to a small degree.

I can only offer this exhortation: back the Kickstarter. Blog more. Create more. Refine your writing technique and participate in the community-driven submission process that is writing for SJG. They’re a tough crowd, and their standards are high. But if you can write for them, you can probably write for anyone.

Even yourself.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line.

Save vs. Hollowing (Anton L.)

The Gaming Musings of a Mad GM (Ken DeLyzer)

Rindis.com (Rindis)

Ravens N’ Pennies (Christopher R. Rice)

Cursed -75 Points (BowToChris)

Dice and Lives (Joel Sammallahti)

Code by Clockwork (Jeff Demers)

Set Adrift on 3D6 (Conner)

Shooting Dice (Hans-Christian Vortisch)

Chain Link and Concrete (M. Eversberg II)

RPG Snob (Jason Packer)

Orbital Vagaries (Christian Blouin)

PK’s Game Recaps and Tidbits (PK Levine)

Shane Plays (Shane Stacks)

RPG Jutsu (Merlin Avery)

Don’t Forget Your Boots (Mitch French)

Fragments of the Last War (Bryan Timms)

Game Geekery (“Warren “”Mook”” Wilson”)

  • Quiz: 30 Years of GURPS (9/28/16) – This week, enjoy a special 30-question quiz to celebrate the 30th anniversary of GURPS this year! How well do you really know the game we all love? Leave those books and PDFs closed and try your hand at guessing… I mean, knowing more than your fellow GURPS fans!
  • Scattershot – September 2016 (9/22/16) – In this week’s post, I ask for more reader questions for the next audio ‘cast; plug the uber-cool Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter; point out a couple of places to chat about GURPS in real time; and share some useful GURPS resources I found in my travels this week. Enjoy!
  • Hell on Wheels, Post-Con Wrap Up (9/15/16) – In the final look at the “Hell on Wheels” convention game, I talk about how the game played out at the table with three different groups and post all of the game notes and characters for download. Also, shout-outs to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter and the upcoming hardcopy version of “How to Be a GURPS GM”!
  • Two Important GMing Lessons (9/07/16) – Two things I (re)learned GMing at last weekend’s convention – The Players Want To Have Fun, and Let Her Be A Werewolf!
  • Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter! (9/01/16) – A new Powered by GURPS Kickstarter?! OMG YES!!!
  • [Audio] Answering Reader Questions 01 (8/25/16) – Hopefully, today will see the upload of the first ever Game Geekery podcast, in which I answer a few questions posed by readers of the blog.
  • More Thoughts on Hell on Wheels (8/18/16) – My next convention game, Hell on Wheels, is slowly shaping up! I also offer some thoughts on balancing characters by spotlight time instead of by point totals.
  • Hell on Wheels (for Gateway 2016) (8/12/16) – After falling asleep and missing yesterday’s GURPSDay deadline, today I look at my brainstorming process for deciding on a new game to run at the Gateway 2016 convention in a few weeks.
  • PCs as Ship Crew, Part Two (8/04/16) – A follow up to the recently popular post on establishing your game so that the PCs are the crew of a ship, whether on sea, across the aether, or in space.
  • GM Convention Tips, The Sequel (7/28/16) – Since I run a lot of convention games, and a lot of people ask about convention games… seems like a topic worth covering! Here are general thoughts on running demos, one-shots, and convention games.

Southern Style GURPS (Chris Bower)

Yore (Martin Ralya)

The Collaborative Gamer (Joseph Linden)

MoeLane.com (Moe Lane)

hoploblog (V)

No School Grognard (Mark Langsdorf)

Just Roll 3d6 (Colin)

  • Why GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Is Awesome (9/07/16) – In light of the Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter, this post discusses why dungeon fantasy is so popular—and why GURPS Dungeon Fantasy is a great way to play the genre.
  • Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter Announced (9/02/16)
  • Character Creation Options (8/30/16) – Point buy may be the default way to create GURPS characters, but it’s far from the only option. This post examines several methods for building GURPS characters and explores which mechanism make the most sense for different player and GM needs.
  • Aborting Combat in GURPS (8/23/16) – Balancing GURPS combat is tricky for new GMs. This post discusses strategies to abort an unexpectedly dangerous encounter without leaving the players feel cheated.
  • Power-Ups 7: Wildcard Skills Review (8/16/16) – This review of GURPS Power-Ups 7: Wildcard Skills looks at how GMs can balance wildcards in their games, as well as how players can find ideas for wildcard skills to use with their characters.
  • Understanding Reaction Modifiers (8/09/16) – What does a +1 reaction bonus mean in practice? How severe is a -2 reaction penalty? This post will interpret reaction modifiers so players and GMs can anticipate the consequences of gameplay choices on their characters’ social interactions.
  • Ballparking Fatigue Costs (8/02/16) – Fatigue is the odd stat out in GURPS. This post will present a rules-light way to ballpark fatigue costs so GMs can easily incorporate fatigue into their campaigns.
  • Thematic Character Creation with Template Optimal Concepts (6/15/16) – By using character-driven traits, players and GMs can quickly create characters that fill specific roles, embody particular backgrounds, or have unique motivations.
  • How Broad is Your Wildcard Skill? Using Inventory Rolls to Model Skill Breadth (6/01/16) – This post explores a house rule for determining whether marginally-related skills are really included within a wildcard skill. This approach adapts the inventory roll technique (rolling to see whether a character has a particular piece of equipment) to create a “wildcard breadth check.”
  • Template Toolkit 1: Characters Review (5/25/16) – This review of GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters looks at how templates can be used to speed up character creation, as well as how players and GMs can use the templating process to learn more about what makes characters effective.

Game in the Brain (Justin Aquino)

Bat in the Attic (Rob Conley)

World of Lycretia (Jeromy French)

Lost in Technology Again (Bill Barnes)

  • (5/16/16)

One Yard Hex (Paul Stefko)

Further Up the Spire (Archon Shiva)

Moral GURPitude (Michael Viviano)

Book and Sword (Sean Manning)

Dark Paths and Wandered Roads (Jason Woollard)

  • Sundered Lands 12.1 (9/08/16) – Seeker and Moonscar head off to take care of some business of their own. They revisit the Harbormaster’s estate, talk with an enemy and run into some prejudice. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 12 (9/08/16) – The companions regroup after their adventures in the Vanderboren Vault and plan their next moves, including gathering some information on Lavina’s brother, Vanthus, do a little magical shopping and prep Arn for some undercover work. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 11 (9/01/16) – The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Grand Duchy 85 (9/01/16) – The Grey Company does more exploration of the ancient Temple of Pflarr. Remar discovers a new “friend.” Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Grand Duchy 84 (8/25/16) – Griffin, Draven, Remar and Iris battle the undead in the Temple of Pflarr. Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 10 (8/11/16) – Valinya uses magic to figure some things out while the rest of the crew tries to figure out the secret of the Vault. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 9 (8/04/16) – The Guardians and Lavinia go to see the Harbormaster then visit Castle Teraknian and the Vanderboren family vault. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Grand Duchy 83 (7/07/16) – The Grey Company plans entry into a ruined temple. Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Grand Duchy 82 (6/23/16) – The Grey Company learns the sad tale of the Traldar, repels an undead horde and goes to check out a ruined temple next door. Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 8 (6/16/16) – The Guardians re-take the Blue Nixie and begin looking for what they came for, hopefully before the Harbor Watch arrives! The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 7 (6/09/16) – The heart-pounding conclusion to the battle aboard the Blue Nixie! The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Simple Tricks IV (6/02/16) – The Crew makes their way across the galaxy, brokering shady deals, purchasing cold weather gear and looking for a missing son. On the snowy world of Ando Prime, they find some answers and end up in the crossfire of a gunfight in a snow filled canyon! The continuing saga of the Crew of the Painted S’kytri in our GURPS: Star Wars campaign, Simple Tricks and Nonsense.
  • Grand Duchy 81 (5/26/16) – The members of the Grey Company are led to the Traldar village of Ronkan. They are greeted by a warm welcome… and screams in the night! Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 6 (5/19/16) – The Guardians agree to help Lavinia find out what has happened to her ship, the Blue Nixie. Their investigation quickly turns into a blind assault in the harbor. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Simple Tricks III (5/13/16) – Take Him Home. The crew of the Painted S’kytri take their beloved Captain “home” to Socorro for an honorable burial. They have to make a few stops along the way, though. The continuing saga of the Crew of the Painted S’kytri in our GURPS: Star Wars campaign, Simple Tricks and Nonsense.
  • Grand Duchy 80 (5/05/16) – The Grey Company leads the northern charge against the “mutts,” enemies of the lizard riders. The “mutts” have some divine magic on their side… will the Grey Company be able to overcome? Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 5 (4/21/16) – The Guardians of Bletherad meet the person they have been seeking and agree to help her regain her family ship and fortune. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Grand Duchy 79 (4/15/16) – The Grey Company assist the lizard riders in their foray against the “mutts” of the valley. Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 4.3 (4/12/16) – Seeker and Moonscar slink around the seedy part of Essanos over on the Shadowshore. (part 3/3) The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 4.2 (4/10/16) – Fortis and Valinya fly across the harbor in search of the local mages guild, the Witchwardens. (part 2/3) The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 4.1 (4/10/16) – Silver the Dragon (in female Elf form) and Arn the Dwarf (also in female Elf form) secure lodgings for the party. (part 1/3) The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Grand Duchy 78 (4/01/16) – The Grey Company explorers further into the valley, experiences a snakebite, skirts some ruins, gets bugs in their faces, finds some dead bodies and is accused of murder by lizard riding strangers. Another exciting episode of the Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS Mystara campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 3 (3/24/16) – The companions finally arrive in the city of Essanos and begin their search for the mysterious blonde girl said to be the key to defeating the Chaos Lords. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Grand Duchy 77 (3/17/16) – The Grey Company cautiously continues their exploration of the quiet valley. Challenges continue to present themselves, but they are overcome. Summary of the latest play session of The Grand Duchy of Adventure, our GURPS: Mystara campaign.
  • Simple Tricks II (3/15/16) – The Lambda Heist. The Crew of the Painted S’kytri infiltrate, assault and steal from an Imperial base on a backwater moon. Episode II of our ongoing GURPS: Star Wars campaign.

The Lands of Nandeme (Charles Saeger)

Gaming Ballistic (Douglas Cole)

5 Stone Games (5 Stone Games)

Dice and Discourse (Joseph Mason)

Mailanka’s Musings (Daniel Dover)

Sharrukin’s Palace (Jon F Zeigler)

T Bone’s GURPS Diner (T Bone)

Castalia House (Varies)

Dr. Kromm’s GURPS Livejournal (“Sean “”Dr. Kromm”” Punch”)

Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog (Jeffro Johnson)

Improvised Radio Theatre – With Dice (RogerBW)

Panhumanity’s Edge (Christain Blouin)

GURB- The Generic Universal Roleplaying Blog (The_RyujinLP)

Cadiz Redemption (Michael Wolf)

Gentleman Gamer (Raoul)

Hard Maths (CTA)

Let’s GURPS (Pseudonym)

Dungeon Fantastic (Peter Dell’Orto)

Gothridge Manor (Tim Shorts)

Northport (Denis McCarthy)

Of Paper Men and Plastic Monsters (Cole Jenkins)

Celti’s Chatter (Patrick Burroughs)

  • On Blindness (2/23/16) – In which, the author rejects munchkinism with disadvantages and suggests a limit.
  • On Improvisation (2/22/16) – In which, the author GMs by the seat of his pants.
  • Holistic Technology (1/29/16) – In which the author takes cyber-physical systems in Altered States to extremes.
  • What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? (1/28/16) – In which the author talks about frequency limitations in GURPS.
  • An Altered State of Mind (1/25/16) – In which the author discusses GURPS, cyberpunk, world-building, and Altered States.
  • GURPS Aging Calculator (1/23/16) – In which the author talks about programming for games and the GURPS aging rules.

Into the Storydark (Morgrim)

Worlds Beyond Earth (Derrick White)

The Red Mouser (Gotha)

Insidious GURPS Planning (Mr. Insidious)

The Phantom’s Belch (Ted Brock)

Armin’s GCA 5 Blog (Armin Sykes)

RogerBW’s Blog (Roger Bell-West)

A Literate Programmer’s Blog (The Literate Programmer)

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.

A bit of bullet-point news, because I have a review of Dungeon Fantasy 19 I want to write.

Gaming Ballistic is now Gaming Ballistic, LLC

Anticipating a real product with real sales, and not wanting to lose my house, ever, over a game, I have stood up a company for the purpose of selling the Dragon Heresy RPG, running the Kickstarter, and other commercial transactions. I’ve got an Employee ID number and everything. And a Linkedin posting that had all of my contacts thinking I quit my day job.

This is a big step for me, though the company isn’t terribly important to anyone else until it starts selling something.

Look and Feel

The Gaming Ballistic blog will be undergoing some major changes. 

For one thing, I’m getting a new look, and a new template. It will be responsive, which should help those on mobile devices. It will also be migrating to its own domain, which I secured a while ago.

The masthead and look will be refined, as well. I’m working with a friend and colleague, and we’ve already got at least one thing set up – two versions of the new masthead.

Here’s one of them:

There’s a 3d6 version as well. 

I have plans for both 3d6 and 2d20 versions and how to use them. 

Dragon Heresy Progress

I’ve been doing a lot of blocking and tackling recently, but I’ll admit I hit a willpower bump that’s been a challenge.

Still, I got some good feedback from a new source on The Book of Heroes, and have incorporated that feedback.

All of the core elements – other than the monster fluff-text descriptions – are now first-draft complete, and the monster lead-ins are slowly but surely getting done.

I got near on 20,000 words of text about my fae from one of my playtesters with a passion fr them, and am in the process of editing that to be in my voice and what I think is slightly better presentation of the information.

I’ve reached out to my hopefully-editor with some business conversations and scheduling.

Kickstarter: Later or Sooner

So. The Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter is on track to probably hit $120-140K by the end, assuming it doesn’t accelerate – which it might. SJG is being very responsive and I’m learning a lot from watching them. I’m in on this one for $155. The Box Set ($50), the PDFs ($35), and a year of Pyramid, which is always useful for me ($70).

On the other hand, the World of Aetaltis, which is a new setting for 5e, did not get that “Day 1 boost” that seems so critical. I’ve backed this one, and am interested in its progress, for somewhat selfish reasons. The KS goal is about $70K, which as I’ve said before is about right for a hardback book with good art, pro layout and editing, and which pays market rates to writers and editors. I’m in at the “PDF-only” level, for $85.

On the one hand, both Kickstarters seem to confirm that for hardback books or sets, you get some serious cash coming in per backer – about $85-$100. That’s good.

Aetaltis is bringing in about 2,300-3,000 per day, which would get to the goal in time if it’s linearized (which it’s not usually – Kickstarters don’t always work that way). The DF boxed set is bringing in an average of $7500 per day, but a ton of that came in on Day 1 and 2, and since then they’re in the $2,500-4,500 range.

Here’s my worry: DF and Dragon Heresy are both the same basic type of game. Complete RPGs. Aetaltis is a setting-only game, though with high production values. Mine will be 5e/OGL-based (good for me, I think), is a complete game in two volumes, and has a setting as well.

But right off the tail of the DF Kickstarter, when a lot of my user base is, I think, shared?

That makes me think that my planned October launch date would be unwise. November and December aren’t BAD, but January seems much better. Plus, it gets out of the holiday season, which might put a strain on my editor. 

(Did I mention I’m just giddy with who I think I managed to hire? No? Well . . . more on that some other day.)

It would also give a bit of a breather to ensure that the book is as good as it can be before it goes to him. And with all the tasks required to get the Kickstarter stood up, including the very, very terrifying combo of “Kickstarter Video” and “European/non-US shipping”, a bit more time would be good.

I think it’s time for another poll.

The To-Do List

I’m really down to the wire here. I’ve got some rewriting/organization work to do on the NPC motivations section for The Book of Deeds. I have a bunch of monsters to knock down, which involves 250-500 words of fluff text each. I may wind up culling the monster list quite a bit – I’ve got a LOT of types of critters, and a LOT of sub-types, which at 350 words per entry could add an unforgivable 75,000 words to an already-full manuscript.

Culling the list and offering up the balance as a separate add-on later might make sense. I’d not nix any critters crucial to the game, of course, but there are always monsters that really don’t need to be there, and there are monsters and other foes that do.

Then there’s a short list of optional rules that I want to include. I have an option for fighter-types that I really like. I want to include rules for different-size shields as options. I want to include an option to make Dexterity and Strength both matter all the time for combat. One or two more things.

I think I also need to make a few changes to the sea travel rules.

And a real examination of the Domain Management rules that +Alexander Macris gave me permission to borrow and convert to SRD5.1. Got to make sure they’re sensible (and any nonsense is my doing in the conversion, not his).

But it’s starting to look like the monster mash, followed by tweaking, and that’s very good.

I’ve also started to narrow down print options for hardbacks. It really will depend on backer count. It’s also last on the list, or close to it, for funding, but I went from despondent (Lulu wanted $65 per book even at quantities of 1,200), to cautiously optimistic (Drive Thru RPG was a lot better), to very optimistic. PrintNinja and Thomson-Shore both look very strong for smyth-sewn, full-color hardbacks. Thomson-Shore apparently has a partner printer in the UK that might make inside-the-EU printing and shipping cost far less than otherwise. Shipping can run $20-90 per book done unwisely, since it’s shipping, customs, and taxes. If I can get it printed in Europe with a sufficient number of orders, it’s totally win-win. And I WANT to do that.

I’ve initiated conversations with Backerkit, and confirmed reasonable prices (1% of raised funds, plus 5% of any last-minute “upsells” people do for add-ons), but they’re a data management service. Thomson-Shore also does Kickstarter help, and they’re looking very, very promising as a nearly one-stop shop.

Still. That video. Shudder. I do have nice maps, courtesy of Cornelia Yoder. I have a book laid out with art holes, so I can show backers that the risks of not getting a playable game are very low.

Anyway, the next few weeks are nose-to-the-grindstone time for writing, editing, and tweaking. And then it’s making the arrangements to get the thing out the door. 

Thursday is GURPSDay. We’re a week and about 69,000 into the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter . Below you can find the blog activity from the last seven days.

Over the last week there have been 53 GURPS-related posts from our list of 63 blogs that have popped up on the radar screen today.

In the first week of the kickstarter, we’re hitting a pace of just shy of $90 per pledge. SJG has found a way to guarantee European shipping at $30 per order (or thereabouts – go read +Phil Reed‘s precise wording for details), and so with 22 days to go, we need perhaps 10-15 backers per day to get where we’re going. Don’t make them wait – the higher the funding of this project, the more they’re convinced GURPS has life in it.

We also saw the release of Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic, by +Christopher R. Rice and +Antoni Ten Monrós. It’s the long-awaited (by them, and if you’re into Vancian-flavored magic, by many more) book introducing an alternate magic system to Dungeon Fantasy. It’s based on Ritual Path Magic, but nearly every jot and tiddle was either worked over or looked over to ensure it plays fast and simple, like the rest of the DF line.

It’s a VERY good day to GURPS. (and happy 50th birthday, Trek!)

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.

Dark Paths and Wandered Roads (Jason Woollard)

  • Sundered Lands 12.1 (9/08/16) – Seeker and Moonscar head off to take care of some business of their own. They revisit the Harbormaster’s estate, talk with an enemy and run into some prejudice. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.
  • Sundered Lands 12 (9/08/16) – The companions regroup after their adventures in the Vanderboren Vault and plan their next moves, including gathering some information on Lavina’s brother, Vanthus, do a little magical shopping and prep Arn for some undercover work. The newest adventures in the Sundered Lands of Palladium, our GURPS: Palladium Fantasy campaign.

RPG Snob (Jason Packer)

The Collaborative Gamer (Joseph Linden)

Dungeon Fantastic (Peter Dell’Orto)

Northport (Denis McCarthy)

Southern Style GURPS (Chris Bower)

Gaming Ballistic (Douglas Cole)

Just Roll 3d6 (Colin)

Mailanka’s Musings (Daniel Dover)

RogerBW’s Blog (Roger Bell-West)

Chain Link and Concrete (M. Eversberg II)

Don’t Forget Your Boots (Mitch French)

Let’s GURPS (Pseudonym)

Of Paper Men and Plastic Monsters (Cole Jenkins)

Game Geekery (“Warren “”Mook”” Wilson”)

  • Two Important GMing Lessons (9/07/16) – Two things I (re)learned GMing at last weekend’s convention – The Players Want To Have Fun, and Let Her Be A Werewolf!

Code by Clockwork (Jeff Demers)

GURB- The Generic Universal Roleplaying Blog (The_RyujinLP)

  • Power Armor, Powered Up! (9/08/16) -Need some more heavy metal love in your life? The bog standard Dreadnought Heavy Battlesuit not cutting it anymore? Need some custom powered suits for hapless soldiers as they battle the evil space bugs? Then you needs some Power Armor, Powered-Up!.

Dr. Kromm’s GURPS Livejournal (“Sean “”Dr. Kromm”” Punch”)

The Lands of Nandeme (Charles Saeger)

RPG Jutsu (Merlin Avery)

MoeLane.com (Moe Lane)

Ravens N’ Pennies (Christopher R. Rice)

Worlds Beyond Earth (Derrick White)

The Firing Squad welcomes Sean Punch

I had the opportunity to sit down once again with GURPS Line Editor Sean Punch for a 90-minute interview concerning the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set.

The Kickstarter is ongoing – and to back the Kickstarter is to vote for more physically printed GURPS products.

The interview is fairly clear, though Sean and I both talk fast, and there will be some interruptions in the flow.

This is the first Firing Squad video in over a year . . . sorry for making you wait so long!

If you don’t have time for the full 90-minute show (but you should make time for it, because Sean’s an engaging speaker and I mostly just shut up and listen), at least listen to this seven minute long pitch about the DF boxed set, and what’s in it for you, and why it matters to the future of GURPS.

Seven Minute Summary


And for those with more time on your hands, here’s the full video:


Full 90-minute Interview

As always, as soon as I can make it happen, there will be an MP3 file and a transcript available.

Hey, and why not? Here’s the first interview I ever did, and also my first with Sean.


One thing that I’ve seen a few times here and there is surprise that the goal for the project is set so high. One commenter even likened it to exortion – buy our stuff or GURPS will get it’s throat cut, mwa ha ha!

Maybe I would have thought that, too, once. But my recent examination of pricing for just the books for my own kickstarter and RPG project has changed my mind. I actually expect my own Kickstarter to require more than the DF one, because while +Sean Punch has estimated about 250,000 words for the GURPS DF compilation, mine is 400,000 words (roughly 100,000 of which are monsters – the SRD5.1 has a lot of monsters in it, and I’ve not finished culling them out).

Anyway, the final books come in at 408 pages. That’s 612 words per page, smearing it out over every page. As an interesting note, that’s almost exactly the wordcount per page of The Book of Heroes. So I feel like I’m not in crazy town.

But I digress. These things are expensive to put together, because very clearly, SJG is working off of their experience on “how not to get utterly floored by your own Kickstarter.”

They have limited stretch goals, zero commits to “out of the box extras,” and have given the shipping costs to Backerkit to manage as an extra. They have not done the project KS until the writing was done, and maybe the layout too. Art is still being worked.

This is all fantastic news. It drastically limits the risks for the vendor, and that means the risks to the customer are also minimized.

And I’ll say it again, though +Phil Reed has said it frequently and well: International shipping sucks. It’s terrifying and terrifyingly expensive. Sending individual books overseas can easily be multiples of the cost per book. The only way around that is either to to have them printed and distributed from within the target market zone, or to ship pallets of books to try and average out the shipping. Both require perfect knowledge of who’s ordering your product, and are not predictable ahead of time.

But let’s get back to it. In a KS, or any business, you should seek to cover all of your costs – including “sunk” costs like staff writing and editing, because if Sean isn’t writing DF, he’s writing something else. Also, writing and editing are two different jobs, best handled by two different people. There’s a reason I’m going to outsource editing to an industry pro and pay him, in his own words “an adult wage.”

Anyway, let’s do this:

Note: I’m making lots of very specific assumptions here about quality, quantity, and form factor. Can a game be published for less than what my numbers suggest? Sure! But read on, and you’ll see what I’ve done is provide “middle of the road” estimates for things.

  • Writing and editing each range from 3-8 cents per word. Lets book 5 cents each.
  • Indexing is ballparked at $10 per 1,000 words.
  • Art is ballparked at $250 per full-page, but could be much more, for full color. You want 1 piece of art every 2-4 pages. Or at 625 words per page, about 1 piece of art every 1,800 words. Each piece in my experience tends to average about 1/3 page: $80.
  • Layout is harder to find benchmarks for – let’s say a penny per 200 words. That may be wrong.

So for a 250/400K project, you’re looking at 
$25,000 and $40,000 in writing and editing
$2500 or $4000 in indexing
$1250 or $2,000 in layout
$14,000 or $20,000 in artwork – oh, add another flat grand or two for cover art, which is more expensive.

That means that for first order, costs to make a 250,000-word PDF ready to send to a printer is about $43,000, and for my project it might be $66,000. Roughly a dollar for every 6-7 words of the project!

And that’s not including printing costs. But my reading of things is that to cover taxes, Kickstarter fees, and backerkit, plus incidentals that come up during the project, you’d best raise at least 1.5x your projected costs. Maybe double.

Note this gets the smaller project – with no extras, to about $65,000 with no printing costs. Price breaks for this sorta stuff don’t even start until you hit 1,000 books. And this is not one book, but five, and smaller.  But using the PrintNinja estimator, 1000 x 8×10 books at 128 pages, softcover perfect bound are $5 per book, and down to $3 per book if you order 2,000. Less then $2 for 5,000 copies. So let’s go with $10 to print all five books. So $10,000 just to get some scale for the books alone. Then there’s the adventurer screen and dice. No idea there. But based on the price point for the game and PDFs, I’m going to estimate $10-14 as total cost of materials, including the box. So cost of materials, including gross-up for fees and incidentals, will run $30,000-$55,000.

So look – $95K to $120K target for the DF boxed set, “just” to get 2,000 copies made in a fashion that the customers are demanding[1] – high production value, boxed set, all in.

So don’t be surprised by requests for $100-200,000 for getting a game launched in a way that emulates the Big Dogs. If I were to be selling a 304-page hardback with 188,000 words in it, expect costs on the order of $41,000, and a Kickstarter ask of $60-80K per book.

Note I expect long-time industry pros with go-to contacts in the industry – and especially in China – might be able to do better. But my point here is that there’s nothing extortionate about the funding level here, and in fact is likely just the bare requirement to make money on the project. Note how I left off “profit” from the equation? That’s not a valid business  model. So whatever savings a set of experienced pros can do off of my numbers, that goes into “yes, this is a viable investment we should repeat.”

Edited to Add: Now, consider what happens when you add shipping into the mix. Media mail for a single book is the only well-known quantity. If your package is a book that weighs 4lbs or less, you can get anywhere in the USA for $5. If it’s more, you can do some sort of flat-rate box.

Internationally, it’s a total crapshoot, and ranges from $20-90 per package. so let’s take a lower-end but not unrealistic value. $30. For 1,500 backers, you would have to add on another $45,000 x fees and taxes (KS revenue is taxed as income) – probably another $60K, because you don’t want to take a bath on shipping. That turns an average requirement for print-only from about $65 to about $105 pretty fast. If you didn’t account for it, it can take your notional profit, or your salary for writing and editing your own work, to zero pretty fast, and it’s easy to see how a run-away successful kickstarter from the revenue perspective can bankrupt a company.

[1] Buy in for D&D5 is something like over $100 for PHB, DMG, and Monster Manual. The Dracula Dossier and Delta Green Agent’s Handbook are ful-color, high value books. All are going like gangbusters in their market. The market demands high quality books. 


Trust me. Here at Gaming Ballistic, we understand boom. I have up-close, personal experience with boom in GURPS.

And we asked SJG “what about PDF! How can you do this without a PDF?”

And they answered.

Here’s the text of Phil’s announcement in the Kickstarter:

I’ve already increased my pledge to cover the cost of the PDFs. 

Dungeon Fantasy in PDF

As requested, we’re offering the five Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game books in PDF as an add-on to the project.

If you would like the PDFs in addition to the printed box set, please add $35 to your pledge; you’ll tell us exactly which add-ons you’ve selected during the BackerKit survey.

If you only want the five books in PDF, then you may back the project at the “No Reward” level for $1 and then add $35 to your pledge for a total pledge of $36 to receive only these five books in PDF.

If this project closes successfully, then the PDFs will be delivered through Warehouse 23 when the printed box sets ship in 2017.

– Phil Reed