Grappling with Game Mechanics

Domstollinn Gaming Ballistic 2017Douglas Cole (me) of Gaming Ballistic, LLC spent over an hour on the air with ever-welcoming host James Introcaso on Episode 40 of Table Top Babble.

James and I have chatted before, once on The Firing Squad on the Gaming Ballistic Blog, and another session during my previous Kickstarter, Dungeon Grappling.

James had heard that Gaming Ballistic was launching another Kickstarter, this time for a 5e adventure, and wanted to chat with me about lessons learned from the process coming in as a relative newcomer.

The discussion started with a chat about grappling in games, and why one of the oldest forms of combat, and the one featured prominently in the first known recorded epic tale (Gilgamesh), has gotten the short end of the proverbial stick in most game systems.

Dungeon Grappling Gaming Ballistic 2017

The discussion covered how grappling can (and in the author’s opinion, should) utilize the same basic game mechanics as the primary striking system, and achieve very dynamic and fun results with perhaps even a decrease in felt complexity at the table. Plus, it enables great storytelling when the mechanics an enable some of the more visceral fears: being eaten by an animal, or carried away helpless by a giant monster.

From there, James smoothly pivoted to the Kickstarter process, and had me walk through both my first kickstarter and the upcoming one for the new adventure Lost Hall of Tyr.

We discuss what to do ahead of time (everything that physically and financially can be done), as well as how much to plan in advance (everything that can logistically and reasonably be planned!) in order to fulfill the First Rule of Kickstarters, which to paraphrase Mal Reynolds: “You do the job on time, and then you get paid.”

Oh, and of course the other Big Rule of writing: I don’t care how good a writer you are, you need an editor. Hire one. RPG writing shouldn’t be dry or boring, but it’s also in many cases writing an instruction manual for fun, rather than writing fiction.

We discussed the importance of “doing your homework” by examining existing products for what went into them, as well as working out business arrangements before a Kickstarter goes live. Finally, making sure you set expectations clearly, and then ensure you meet them.

The discussion talked about a few fine points such as ISBN acquisition, and what all of the different roles that must be filled – even if the same person does all the rules – in order to bring a product to reality.

After all of the general Kickstarter chat, we got into some details about the upcoming adventure, Lost Hall of Tyr, which is designed around 4-8 players of roughly level 4 in the 5e rules. It uses the same setting (in this case implied) that is used in the eventually-forthcoming Dragon Heresy RPG, and strongly supports (but doesn’t require) the Dungeon Grappling alternate rules, including a two-page Quick-Start to cover the basics.

It’s a fun chat, and covers a lot of ground. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much I enjoyed recording it! You can listen to it here: