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:

David Kenzer on The Firing Squad!

Gaming Ballistic logo 2017 Gaming BallisticGaming Ballistic, LLC had the opportunity to welcome David Kenzer, of Kenzer and Company, onto a periodic feature hosted on the blog: The Firing Squad. In the past I’ve interviewed various game designers, company owners, VTT producers, bloggers, and more, talking about the hobby, game design, and the community.

This interview went live on May 10, about two weeks before their latest Kickstarter, for Aces and Eights Reloaded, is set to end. They overachieved their $20,000 basic funding level on the first day, and are currently trending towards the very important stretch goal of providing Roll20 support for the new version of Aces and Eights.

Kenzer and Company 2017

Kenzer and Company has been around for over 25 years, and during the interview, we touched on their company history, some well known RPG-related products of theirs (Hackmaster, Aces and Eights, and the Knights of the Dinner Table comic series) as well as some non-RPG products, such as Fairy Meat, the Monty Python and the Holy Grail Collectable Card Game, and others.

We go into some depth on what makes both Hackmaster and Aces and Eights unique, talk about the current Kickstarter campaign, and dwell a bit on the western genre in various media, and how best to simulate it in games. You can also hear David assert and defend that with good design, “realism” and “speed and ease of play” are not mutually exclusive.

The interview is just over an hour and fifteen minutes long; it is available on video, MP3 audio-only, and (soon) will appear as a text transcript (check back this weekend!). Give a listen!

Gaming Ballistic was a blog, and is now an RPG company. Their first product, Dungeon Grappling, is available on the Gaming Ballistic store, DriveThruRPG, Warehouse 23, and CreateSpace.

GM’s Day Sale on DriveThruRPG!

GM's Day Sale 2017 DriveThruRPG

The GM. We call them by many names: Gamemaster; Dungeon Master; Dragonmaster; Loremaster; MC; Navigator; friend; enemy; frenemy. They keep the games moving, usually downwards along with our HP, oversee the rules, and generally plot our demise. They are, at once, cruise director, narrator, evil mastermind, and the nucleus of our gaming atom. On March 4th each year, we honor these special individuals with GM’s Day, and the IGDN is helping the festivities by offering some of our favorite games at a nice, tidy discount. But you don’t need to be a GM to enjoy the savings! Here are just a few of our offerings this year.

GM's Day Sale 2017TAG Sessions has numerous games for sale and Tobie Abad’s excellent A Single Moment is right at the top of that list. This innovative RPG is about the flashing moment of a samurai duel, and is for two players.

Eloy Lasanta and Third Eye Games’ entire catalog is participating in the sale! Sins of the Father is one of his newest creations. It’s a game about “spiritual debt”, magic, and evil and uses an especially cool playing card-based resolution mechanic. Give it a look, along with all the other favorites like the AMP series and Ninja Crusade.

Have a look at Todd Crapper’s many games, including ScreenPlay. In this unique story game, you star as writers creating a great work together, developing characters, and telling tales. Based on this ruleset is the Ironbound setting, a dark fantasy game where you tell the story of magick hunters in an original world. Continue reading