Gaming Ballistic LLC Backerkit Store and Preorders

Created by Douglas H. Cole

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Latest Updates from Our Project:

New Cover Work in Progress
3 days ago – Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 09:49:42 AM

Juan's been busy with life, but we reconnected, and his comment was "Well, I hated the composition of my first cover, so I'm doing it over."

Here's the new composition as Work-in-Progress.

We should be seeing a final full-color version on Friday!

A quick test: happiness is a full book
5 days ago – Sun, Jan 13, 2019 at 05:13:32 PM

I did a quick test yesterday. The new maps went in as "maps as art." The full-page maps went in as, well, full pages, with no borders or anything but map in the way.

Here's an example of the first:

So that's how they fit into the book, in the same places that the art fits.

But here's the back of the book, in the maps section (in fact, these two maps are not facing pages, but I wanted to show both).

Finally . . . the scale bars and other items are on layers:

So an export or image-only file should be available. If I can embed the scale bars on an on/off layer so that importing the maps into a VTT preserves the scale/grid boxes and bars so you can use a Virtual table-top's native grid without having the images clutter things up, I will.

So that's good. Even better is that I'm at 106 pages of a target 112, which means once I put in the desired conversion documents, Kickstarter backer page, and a bit more, the book is right where it needs to be page-count wise.

Relative to where I need to be on this one for a prelim PDF release for error-crushing in the last week of January . . . this is a great place to be.

Maps are Done!
6 days ago – Sat, Jan 12, 2019 at 09:32:37 AM

Progress Report

Yesterday Glynn sent me the last of the seven map upgrades. I really think you will like them!

So that's it. He delivered, and now it's time to move into the final stages.

Funding Update

The Norns give, and the Norns take, and both up and down can come quickly.

If Backerkit isn't confused, we've got about $1,000 of pure add-ons. On a total project basis, we get both the offset print run and the maps at about $5300. The Kickstarter funds FINALLY came in, and that was $3,675. So we're about $700 short of the big run, but easily can fund the promised improved short-run printing. There's still 13 days left in the backerkit phase, so one never knows! So again, we're on track here with a possible strong upside.

Schedule

That means it's time for me to really start revising the document for final preliminary distribution. What does that mean? It means I'll go through it word by word, remove (hopefully) all the legacy material from old versions and from the Powered by GURPS expansion, fully complete the conversion to Dragon Heresy, and ensure that my Swords and Wizardry conversion notes, and the Dragon Heresy --> Fifth Edition notes, are complete. Plus insert the full-page maps in the back rather than as art in the front. Well, in addition to, not instead of.

That should start this weekend. If I'm good, it will finish this weekend, but I doubt it. Next week I'm hoping to get with my cover artist about a final update to the cover art; his schedule has been complicated but there's till more than time.

With luck and focus, I will be able to push out a PDF for everyone to review and comment on - ideally looking for typos and "WTF?" moments that should be absent but always manage to creep in. Once we have a bit of that (and I may well send that out early so I can clear the decks for other things in February) I'll finalize the PDF, export the print-worthy cover and interior pages, and get that to the printer.

Then it's game-time for shipping and delivery. There are few enough copies going out that I'll do this one myself. 

And then that'll be it; those that backed or bought Lost Hall 1e will get an updgraded PDF, either from DriveThru or my website, and then it's on to new projects . . . of which Gaming Ballistic has many in the pipeline!

80% on Surveys; Only 20 pre-orders from Stretch Goal!
9 days ago – Wed, Jan 09, 2019 at 08:57:43 AM

Survey Status

You guys have done great for the surveys . . . and have been generous with the add-ons, which I appreciate. We're over 4/5 - 82% to be precise - complete. There are 24 people who have not filled out their surveys, but of those, 17 have hard-copy material for which I need an address, so if you have already ordered, or would like to order, physical goods . . . I need a shipping address.

Funding Status

Those of you that have backed my projects before know I'm transparent in terms of where the money's going. You backed me, you get the straight dope on funding flow. In this case, after Kickstarter fees, we brought in $3,675 from that part of the campaign. Backerkit has brought in about $940 in not-shipping fees, for a total of $4615 to date that can be applied towards the dual goals of the project: the maps, and the print run.

The offset print run and maps together require $5,275, so we're about $660 shy of the goal

Even as-is, the digital short-run printing with CPI in the UK will produce up to 400 books if I choose. In distribution, these won't be self-sustaining at the cost-to-produce as they would with the offset run: That's OK (It's not ideal, but it's OK). No matter what, there's Dragon Heresy support out there, and more on the way.

The key to victory here is simple: 20 pre-orders of PDF and Print.

Schedule

Glynn has already finished five of seven maps. I gave a preview of what they'll look like a few days ago, but I like seeing it so here it is again:

He's done something fun with the entrance to the Hall itself, which is to draw the outside and inside lower hall as a single map, split into two halves. This will allow a notional battle to rage between the two seamlessly, which was in the original adventure but not really reflected on the maps.

That means barring Real Life, the maps should be done and ready by week's end. That will let me start finalizing the PDF. I've got a few conversion notes to put in, some stats and conversion notes for Swords & Wizardry to add, and an error check to do. Hopefully that will all be complete within the month of January; then we'll get a preliminary PDF out so folks can look for errors and typos that always slip in.

Basically, I'm on schedule. If we hit the offset run, expect your print copies in June (or before). If we don't, you should get them 4-6 weeks earlier.

Don't forget those surveys if you're doing physical product! And as always, a little word of mouth (of Facebook? Of Twitter?) goes a long way. We're about two dozen print pre-orders, or 10 "Starter Kit" with a copy of Dragon Heresy included, from the stretch goal that will both improve the book (thicker, heavier paper, lay-flat sewn binding) and get it out there in retail stores next to the core book.

If you have questions, you know Where to find Gaming Ballistic on the Internet!

Sneak Attack! Cut content and an example
11 days ago – Mon, Jan 07, 2019 at 02:38:46 PM

A question about Sneak Attacks came up on my discord channel, and I thought the answer was fun, and revealing about why those that play Dragon Heresy have said that it rolls like 5e but kills like the OSR.

(Find Gaming Ballistic on the Web)

Dragon Heresy made a few changes to things – notably in the implementation of Wounds and Vigor to make explicit what Hit Points leave abstract (you’ll have to grant me a bit of dispensation for utility here; I like it, and it helps with certain narrative-mechanical consistency issues). Wounds for Joe Average start at 10; a 20th-level Berserker (barbarian) with STR and CON 24 can have 31 wounds. Creatures that are very large (like dragons and giants) multiply calculated wounds; small creatures divide wounds. It’s easier to smush a pixie than a dragon. On my Discord channel for Gaming Ballistic, someone asked me about Sneak Attack. Since I’m about to release some direct support for the Dragon Heresy system via an upgrade to Lost Hall of Tyr, it’s very topical.

The formula for wounds is CON + the STR bonus. So with starting Strength and Con scores ranging from about 8 to a high of 16 for starting characters; characters with the standard array could start with CON 16 and STR 15 for 18 wounds; a 9 CON and 11 STR would be about 10 wounds. There might be ways to have lower, but starting characters will range from 10-18 wounds, with 14 being about in the middle for PCs.

If you exceed your wound maximum, you die. Over half your wound maximum and you risk unconsciousness. So even a few dagger thrusts or a single arrow can do you in, doubly so with a critical hit.

Wherefore art thou, Rogue?

That’s an inappropriate use of “wherefore,” I know, since in context is means “why” and not “where.” But much like the appropriate meaning for the phrase, Rogues are absent from Dragon Heresy. I had to cut somewhere – a lot of somewheres – as getting from my three-volume, 420,000 word initial draft to something I could afford to publish (a single, 288-page volume) required basically cutting two words in three from the draft.

So rogues, whose primary mission of sneaking around and stealing stuff is dishonorable in Viking culture, and which did not appear in some of the original source material, got the axe.

No, really. What about Rogues and Sneak Attack?

Without the Rogue class, the Sneak Attack debate could be shelved. That being said, during the game’s design phase we worked through multiple versions of Sneak Attack. This is the one that we chose. Some of the changes to the published rules might not be reflected in the version below, but this is what the starting point for revision would be. My design efforts have been trending towards “simpler!” for a while, so at the end, I’ll go through and make some notes – but the changes, if any, are already in the draft.

Sneak Attack

Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe’s distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon. Advantage can come from any source, but the most common are striking from hiding and striking when the foe is flanked.

The amount of the extra damage increases as you gain levels in this class, as shown in the Sneak Attack column of the Rogue table (basically 1d6 every five levels, capping at 4d6 at the top tier).

Sneak attacks also have the following two benefits:

  • A sneak attack is considered a Swift Attack, and scores a hit so long as the attack exceeds the Threat DC of the foe.
  • The DR of the foe is halved due to the ability to precisely target the weaker points in the armor. This does not stack with magical potency or damage type—armor DR can only ever be halved once.

If the rogue also wants to make a called shot to gain +5 to the critical threshold, she must give up advantage to do so. Giving up advantage for this purpose does not disqualify the attack from being a Sneak Attack.

Example: Eydis, an 11thlevel rogue with a dagger, has lain in wait for a guard that is barring the way to the treasure room of a dungeon chamber. At the right moment, she eases out from her hiding place, striking her target, who has Threat DC 12, 50 vigor, and a wound maximum of 18. The humanoid is wearing heavy armor with DR 6. As the blow is a Sneak Attack, any Threat will count as a hit to armor and wounds, with only frantic defense able to convert wounds to vigor.Eydis chooses to give up advantage to also increase her critical threat range from 20 to 15-20 on her attack roll. She will normally do 1d4+4 piercing with her dagger based on her Dexterity 19 (+4).

If she rolls lower than 12 she will simply miss. If she rolls between 12 and 22, she will hit, and her damage roll of 1d4+4+3d6 will face DR 3 (absorbing this attack via frantic defense will take 16-52 vigor!). If she rolls 23 or higher she scores a critical hit and inflicts 2d4+4+6d6 damage (requiring 24-96 vigor to absorb!) against DR 3.

If the GM rules that the target is a “mook,” and is caught unaware, then if Eydis hits, she will deliver from 5-23 damage through the DR 3 armor, averaging 14, enough to render her target unconscious. If shecriticallyhits, she will average 27 wounds, and the foe will start making death checks.

If the target isnota mook, and can avail himself of Frantic Defense, an average hit will drain 34 vigor, while a critical hit will result in a total vigor loss and 5 damage remaining—the armor will absorb 3, and the target will suffer 2 wounds and must make a morale check. Sneak attacks against “worthy” opponents are not auto-kills, but they drain vigor from the foe very quickly.

(Image stolen from We Are Rogue)

Looking at it a bit More

The core rules have changed a bit since this was written. Not a ton, but let’s break down the draft and see.

More Dice, Upon Advantage. This is the same rules basis for the SRD, and it hasn’t changed. If you can rack up advantage from any source, you can use this sneaky attack to add dice. This aids penetration of DR by virtue of extra damage, and your odds of a critical are higher, because advantage.

Surprise Attack. You lose reactions with a surprise attack, but the rules call out being able to use Frantic Defense, and you can’t use reactions (which Frantic Defense is) when surprised. The change for Frantic Defense to consume your reaction came late in the design phase. Rephrasing this as a Swift Attack, like bows, fixes this.

Halves DR. This is cool because it lets a rogue or someone else with this ability target foes in heavy armor, but doesn’t make them inherently more deadly by virtue of large piles of damage dice. That’s one of the benefits of the Aim/Evaluate action, so it’s basically getting that for free. You never quarter DR in the game, though; not yet. That’s for simplicity, just like “you can’t stack advantage.

Can Increase Crit Threshold. You’ll have to trust me on this one: +5 to the crit threshold is about balanced with other things of similar ability. It’s not as overpowering as you’d think, even if you roll double dice on a 14-20 instead of just a 20.

Mook Rules. The example clearly has a “mook rule” where only heroes and important folks can avail themselves of frantic defense. The fact that the example is also a true surprise attack means that mook or no, in the current published version of the rules, they can’t avail themselves of Frantic Defense. To folks familiar with regular Fifth Edition, what this means is that facing a CON 16, STR 20 fighter with 85 vigor (read that as hit points) means if you hit, you’re attacking vs 21 wounds (so risking KO at 11 or more, death at 22 or more), and who cares how many HP they have?

In the End

So a thrust with a rapier from a Dexterity 18 rogue will do 1d8+4+Sneak Attack damage. At 10th level (since the fighter above might be 10th level) you’re looking at +2d6 extra and DR is halved. That’s 7-24 (16-17 average) on a normal blow, and 14-48 (average 31). That’s a strong possibility for a one-shot KO with a regular success, and on the average, dying with a crit (and possible instant death at more than 42 wounds, no saving throw, no death checks, just dead).

Even with “only” 1d6 and a +3 bonus at 1st level, that’s 5-17 points, 11 on the average; 10-34 on a crit (average 22). Still enough to lay low even a 20th level barbarian, with the maximum wounds available to a human in the game: 31.

So sneak attack is plenty dangerous when done from surprise, and a ridiculous drainer of vigor (because frantic defense absorbs damage as vigor as 2 vigor to 1 damage), and makes armor half as effective.