Nordlond Sagas for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG

Gaming Ballistic is at it again, not just once but THREE times the product in their latest KickStarter! Nordlond Sagas consist of The Dragons of Rosgarth, Forest’s End, and Norðlondr Fólk. Three exciting books to add to the wonderful Nordic base world of Norðvörn.

The Dragons of Rosgarth is written by Kyle Norton (Dungeons on Automatic) and is an adventure and setting expansion that sounds to be epic!

Forest’s End is a set of adventures with three dungeons. Written by Merlin Avery the Forest’s End hints at some exciting times around the table with dice and mates.

Norðlondr Fólk will add 16 different playable racial templates to supplement that fit the theme of the Gaming Ballistic line of books. Written by Kevin Smyth the Norðlondr Fólk is sure to add a more nordic feel to your games!

Well I’m very excited to see these and I was surprised at three books! I was only expecting The Dragons of Rosgarth not three books! It is currently only $1,500 away from meeting its goal and I would be brilliant if it reached the goal of $29,000 for the extra 16 pages added to the books.The last Kickstarter raised $26,000 so it isn’t outside the real of reason.

UPDATE!

A fourth add on book has been offered! “The Hand of Asgard” The Aesir—are more than just mythological, ineffable entities: they walk among the people of the world, offering their wisdom and might to those they find worthy. This book offers detailed information on the denizens of Asgard, the divine realm worshipped by the people of Norðlond and its surrounding regions.

This is really fantastic and unexpected. For $13 add on you can get this in print and pdf.

SJG Print on Demand

Two years ago I posted about the Steve Jackson Games (SJG) Print on Demand (PoD). You can read it here if you would like. I was pleased just to be able to get GURPS books because lately you just can’t. I’m afraid my bitterness has increased since then. The closing of Pyramid, the lack of GURPS products being released, and now the latest Kickstarter (DFRPG Magic Items 2) will only ship to the USA only. Everyone else will either have to make arrangements to have it shipped from the States to their home or purchase it from SJG Amazon Print on Demand service.

Now two years ago I thought that was great despite the black and white pages. Since then I’ve taken several courses in book binding and I can now tell how inferior these PoD are compared to normal SJG printing. Now personally I would prefer hardcover as they just last longer than a paperback but I’m being told by everyone that I’m being unrealistic.

So lets compare the PoD compared to the books that cam with the DFRPG box set.

Now the Companion is Pod and Exploits is from the box set. The covers are comparable but there is more of a gloss finish to the Exploits. They have comparable gsm (read below for gsm definition). I don’t have a lot of complaints about the covers.

Companion Cover
Exploit Cover

“GSM is an acronym standing for ‘Grams per Square Meter’. Quite simply, it allows print buyers and print suppliers to know exactly about the quality of paper that is being ordered. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper.”

Now that isn’t strictly true. You can have higher quality paper in a lower gsm to a higher gsm. Mostly it lets you know how thick/heavy the paper is in a generic sense. So the paper of the Companion is thicker at 0.10 mm and the exploits is 0.9 mm thick. However the Companion is less dense or more porous. It would, in my opinion, tear easier than the paper from Exploits which is a gloss paper and better quality.

Companions isn’t horrible, but it is more like a high quality colouring book. Not even as good as a cheap paperback from a book store.
Exploits paper is comparable to the GURPS Hardcover books which have lasted me almost 20 years with hardly any wear or tear.

Now here is where I really get critical. Exploits is either Saddle stitched or Loop Stitched. Meaning they used some type of thread to keep the pages together in groups called ‘Signatures’. Companions is Perfect bound. Perfect Bound is when they take single sheets of printed paper (2 pages) or one sheet folded (4 pages) and bind them together with a thermal glue into a book. A very good quality thermal glue should last a few years. It is fairly flexible. A cheap thermal glue will dry out, crack and fall apart. I don’t know which type that Amazon uses but I wouldn’t push my luck by stressing out the spine at all.

Companions on the top, Exploits on the bottom.

As you can see from the top book, which is Amazon’s Print on Demand Companions it is a folded sheet of paper (4 pages) stacked and glued together, sparingly at that. Now the bottom book is Exploits from the box set and bound in China. You have 4 sections (roughly 28 pages), sewn together then perfect bound with a generous amount of adhesive.

Exploits stitch hole. I can’t actually see any thread but it is apparent they have stitched in some manner otherwise the other pages would fall out. I’m not an expert on Perfect binding techniques.
PoD Companion just goes straight to the adhesive.

So what it comes down to is that if SJG is using the same printers then those in the States, or able to get ahold of the Magic Items 2 books being shipped to the States will be getting a better quality book for $18. How much will those outside of the U.S. be charged for an inferior PoD? Companions is $19.95 for 78 pages. That is only 30 more pages then the Magic Items 2. So those in the States get the PDF and the print book for $18.00 but those of us not in the U.S.A. Have to pay $10.00 for the PDF then probably another $15.00 for the PoD which will be a less quality product for much more.

Maybe if they put as much enthusiasm into GURPS as they do trying to resurrect Ogre and Car Wars of even half as much effort as they do Munchkin they might have better success trying to get GURPS out to a new generation of players. It won’t work if they start out with making it inaccessible.

This isn’t a criticism of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy but of SJG and it has only been increasing over the years do to the lack of effort and attention given to GURPS. Yes I’m bitter, I may or may not be reasonable in my criticism but customer expectation is what decides a chunk of sales. It’s just my opinion.

UPDATE

Although nowhere on the Kickstarter page mentioned the PoD version of DFRPG PoD would be colour instead of black and white like all the other SJG PoD, Phil Reed has confirmed it will be available in colour

The book is color, yes, both when as a Kickstarter reward item and when ordered through the ongoing GURPS On Demand program that is described here: http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/ondemand/

The Citadel at Norðlond

Gaming Ballistic has started its deliveries from their latest Kickstarter, The Citadel at Norðlond. This is their second kickstarter to sell Dungeon Fantasy powered by GURPS. Both have been very successful and a third is in the works.

Unlike Hall of Judgment, The Citadel at Norðlond is not a stand alone adventure but a sourcebook with enough information to run campaigns for many gaming sessions. It has something for just about everyone from political intrigue to good old hack and slash. A good GM could easily use the many factions to cause tensions within the group, or to just harass them on their journey. Evil cultists, Dragonmen, Fae, and more abound in and around Norðvorn.

I really like the representation of the Fairy in this book. My original Dungeon Fantasy game from ten years ago had Fae everywhere. It was a real hassle for the players to go anywhere as they had to stop and give offerings to each area for safe passage. That setting had no Gods, just Fae, everywhere. In your house, the inns, outdoors, etc. So I was very pleased to see them represented, although differently, in The Citadel at Norðlond.

There are other things then fairies to worry about in this setting and plenty of opportunities for the players to get in trouble. Douglas Cole has not only given you fuel for the fire by providing you with the information for all the factions and political turmoil, he has provided everything for a rich setting. Names and proper pronunciations, holidays, towns, traditions to really get the players engrossed in a fantasy viking region. Even if you don’t play GURPS (but why wouldn’t you?) The Citadel at Norðlond would be a great setting sourcebook for any rule system.

The Citadel at Norðlond and Fantastic Dungeon Grappling to add new combat options for Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Now all we have to do is sit and wait for the third Kickstarter which I believe is going to be The Dragons of Rosgarth

2 DFRPG Kickstarter Successes

Both Steve Jackson Games and Gaming Ballistic had successful KickStarters this month! SJG had the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 & Game Reprint with 1,019 backers pledged $54,741 getting one stretch goal allowing for 4 more pages and a journal. There were many add-ons as well which I took advantage of.

Gaming Ballistic had The Citadel at Norðvorn600 backers pledged $26,030, hitting four stretch goals! Each one expanding the page count and the final stretch goal for an offset print run! Plenty of add-ons for this KickStarter as well!

I think the message is clear that there is enough interest in DFRPG and GURPS to keep things moving forward. Douglas Cole from Gaming Ballistic has already hinted at the next installment! I wonder what will be next from SJG?

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The Citadel at Norðvorn

It has been a really good month for Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS! Not only are we getting Monsters 2 but Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic, the man who brought us “Hall of Judgment – a Dungeon Fantasy RPG Supplement” has his second book that has been funded “The Citadel at Norðvorn”. It is time to sharpen your sword and return to Norðvorn!

GURPS: Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy RPG kickstarter has been underway and with a week to go we really need to push to get this through. The future of GURPS products may hang in the balance of this kickstarter!

Now is the time to get the DFRPG box set if you missed the original Kickstarter and some other goodies too!

*EDIT* Now fully funded!

Mini Magnetic Battle Tiles

I found some A4 magnetic glossy sheets for inkjet printers. I wanted to see if i could print out the Battle Tiles at 2 inches vertical hexes. This way it can be a ‘mini map’ during play and I can pull out the appropriate 7 inch Battle Tiles during combat or special situations like trying to find traps and secret doors.

Testing them out on my metal filing cabinet.  I have a white board that we have used in the past for gaming and will be using that set on the table during play.

I am really pleased at the print quality that my Epson EcoTank ET-7750 was able to produce on these glossy magnetic sheets.  The stairs, doors, pits, and traps are a pain to cut out but they do stick to the top of the tiles allowing me to add features to the dungeon as well!

They cut better with a scissors then they did with the hobby knife. Now when we play I can place down the tiles as they explore the dungeons and they are just fun to play with on their own.

Binding PDF’s – Adding the cover

PART ONE

PART TWO

Using Adobe CS2 I created the cover in three parts as I don’t yet have my roll of 115 gsm paper to do a continual cover in one piece.  I’m very impatient and didn’t want to wait another week.

Measure the thickness of the book with the front and back cover on.

Measure the thickness of the book.  The suggested gap between spine and cover is twice the width of the thickness of the cover.  I’m using 2mm greyboard so I’ve placed a 4mm gap.

Cover cut guide

Once you know the size of your cover either measure it out or make a cutting guide like I did.

Normally I would have used a longer steel ruler with a blade attachment to cut these out. However I still have not unpacked it and I’m unsure which box it is in.

Jakar photo mat cutter. Now where did I place it?

My covers got slightly sloppy and I did my best to square them up.

A bit longer on the bottom then the top. Remember to make several shallow cuts rather than attempt to cut it in one go.

Printed out the front, back, and spine art of the book.

How it should look, unfortunately I made an error somewhere.

Now tape your boards together with masking tape.  They are only there temporarily to keep them at the right distance.

Coat the board with acid free PVA glue.

Place the artwork on and use something to smooth it out. This is where I found out I made an error as it doesn’t fit perfectly.

Weigh it down so it doesn’t warp. PVA Glue still has a high water content so things can warp if you use too much.

At this point I’m pretty much giving up and a good cover.  I’ve made a ton of errors so far.

Error 1 is either my board cuts, my Illustrator file, or the actual distance I’ve placed the boards from each other. Or it could be a combination of the three.

Error 2 : Placing the cover on. I did not centre the spine.

Carefully remove the tape

Glue and wrap around the rest of the cover.
Error 3: I didn’t make these long enough.

Fold a sheet of A3 in half. Using scrap paper only expose about 4mm on the papers spine (where it is folded) then glue that bit. Now place it to the first page of the book.

Place the A3 sheet in the book. The 4mm strip of glue is attached to the first or last page near the spine. Then glue the Muslin to the cover

Glue the other half of the A3 sheet to the cover and press.

Since my clamp broke I must press the book between two boards with considerable weight on the top, evenly dispersed

Adhesive plastic film

Next time I will place the book upside down but open at 45 degrees when placing the plastic cover on it.

Tons of air bubbles. Just like my first GURPS 4e Characters book!

So I’m very pleased with the binding method up until I do the covers.  I need to spend a bit more time researching the best way to do it.  The loss of a clamp and the high heat did not help either.  Overall I’m fine with the look of it.  I should have made something triangular to lay the book open over when applying the plastic covering. Or gotten a second person to help me move and stretch.

I will do issues 6-10 next week.

Printing and Binding your pdf

Part One HERE

The one thing I forgot about EPSON printers (I used to use them exclusively in the 00’s) is they only let you select EPSON brand paper.  This is understandable as when using Epson products which are specifically made to be used with Epson inks the end results are stunning.  However you may want to use water colour paper, or in my case Silk (which is like a semi gloss).  What you need is ICC Profiles that will work with your paper.  I emailed EPSON Technical support and hope I actually get a response.

Before printing I added a Table of Contents with the new page numbers in MS Word then saved it as a pdf then using Soda PDF I merged the contents with the rest of the document.

Then after experimenting with the limited paper options I chose to go with telling the computer I’m using plain paper but I told the printer I loaded semi-gloss.

Once your print is done make sure they are in order, I added test sheets to the front and back to protect the main book.  I will carefully tear or cut them out when the main part of the book is done. Then joj the pages so the are squared at each corner.

Cut guides for the spine

The string will be placed in the groves

I found this saw in my garage, it is absolutely perfect for this job!

Pres back and fan the pages out

Then apply glue. It was very hot and I had issues with accelerated drying.

Bring it up and get it back into normal position before fanning the pages the opposite way

Now glue the other side, the scribbles on the sheet is because that was a test print page

Press the book between two boards

Leave the top of the spine sticking out

 

Add the string to the spine cuts

You can either loop them back and forth or cut strips.

Add some glue to the spine then stretch Muslin cloth over the spine

Add a bit more glue. I was adding a fair bit due to the heat and the glue drying quickly

Let it dry for about an hour to be safe, or even overnight.

Carefully cut away the board and spare sheet. Make sure you use a sharp knife and take your time.

A Double Fan Bind lays flat

Do you even lift?

Project on hold until new clamp can be acquired.

So far I would say it was a success! Next time I might glue when it is cooler out.  They heat caused me to have to hurry a bit on the gluing which made it a bit sloppy.

I’m not sure I have the print quality down yet.  I thought having a nice paper like Silk would give me a great finish but there are some ink smears on some of the pages.  However in my haste I purchased a lot of silk paper because I thought I new better so I will have to make do with what I have.

Now the question is Soft Cover or Hard Cover?  Either way I will need a clamp before I continue.

PART THREE

Creating your own books

Some might question why a person would go through all the trouble of printing and binding their own books at home these days when there are so many print on demand services offered by the likes of Amazon  (which I have used in the past), or DriveThruRPG, and LuLu. For me it is curiosity, how far can I customise a book?

  • soft cover or hard cover
    • practical or ornate
  • Comb, Spiral, Perfect, Saddle Stitch, Screw bound
  • do I want a ribbon bound in to mark pages
    • Maybe two or three smaller ribbons
  • Transparencies over maps
  • Fold out pages
  • Perforated tear out sheets
  • Do I want it to lay flat

There is plenty to consider.

So where would I start in allowing me to take my pdf RPG books and get a bound copy that I made with my own hands? Research is the answer.  I looked at many websites and YouTube videos to give me a basic idea of how to create my own books. So the first thing I had to understand was the Terminology.  There is a lot of terminology. Once I had my head wrapped around that I had to know what options I had.  I already own a comb binder and that has suited me just find for pdf books, but now I wanted something more.  Each type of binding was different and had something to offer but I soon realised that if I wanted to print in signatures, then bind them together with a saddle stitch and turn the GURPS Pyramid Magazines into a durable Hardcover Book then I’d have to spend a lot of time changing the formatting. Pdf books are generally centred on the paper and I would need to move them away from the spine and towards the outer edges.  I don’t feel like opening up the pdf in a pdf editor (at this moment) and change the inside margin of each page! The cheapest and simplest way is to Perfect Bind

Perfect binding is commonly used for catalogues, directories and paperback books that have a higher page count. Pages are glued together at the spine with a strong, flexible glue. The cover is wrapped around the glued pages, and the brochure or catalogue is then trimmed to its finished size.

There are plenty of videos and websites that will show you how to perfect bind your books.Because we live in an age where you can purchase any product you want and have it delivered within a few days it is easy to bind a book at home.  Adhesives are cheap, plentiful, and of better quality than you could get 20 years ago.  This allows us to print at home and if you take the time you can have yourself a reasonably decent book.  Mind you I’ve had bought RPG books from a brick and mortar shop that are perfect bound and they have fallen apart (I’m looking at your 1990’s Palladium Books!”)  After pouring over videos on YouTube I came across a video for Double Fan Binding.  Much like Perfect Bind but it adds a few extra steps giving you a more secure bind.

This sounded ideal to me as I wouldn’t have to worry much about with Imposition, Creep, Signatures, Bleed, …see I told you there was a lot of terminology!

So now that I know what style of binding to do I still have the cost of printing out the pdf’s.  Lots of things to consider here such as

  • print monochrome (blak & white) or full colour
  • Type of paper
    • Standard Photocopier paper 90 g/m²
      • Images would be seen from other side
    • Gloss, Satin/Silk paper for full colour
      • What weight (thickness/quality) 130 g/m², 150 g/m²?

My first run will be with A4 Silk 150 g/m².  Silk is a good type of paper to use when you are using a combination of text and images.  Since I’m binding the book myself I can stick in photo quality pages for full page artwork. I also have an old, but still functional Craft Robo which is a print plotter.  It works like a printer but instead of ink it has a blade that you use to make precise cuts or even perforations.  I could perforate pages with player hand outs if I wanted to.

Next is cost of printing. According to PC worlds test of 40 printers the cost of ink is roughly 3.4 cents for black and 10.4 cents for four colours using high yield cartridges.  So even more expensive for the regular yield cartridges. It is around half that price for using compatible cartridges but then you also loose quality.  My last batch of compatible inks faded in direct sunlight in less than 20 minutes of exposure.  Not ideal if you forget it on the table and later find that the sun got to it as it traversed the sky.

You can always try Print on Demand, they offer good services but I wanted this to be an at home project.  After asking for suggestions Jim Bowen (a fellow paper modeller) informed me of the Epson Eco Tank range of printers. I did some research on the, watched and read reviews and finally took the plunge and bought the Epson EcoTank ET-7750.  These are not cheap printers, not by a long shot.  What Epson has done is reverse the cost so instead of paying £30.00+ for a printer and £70.00+ for a full set of inks you are paying £200+ for the printer and £50.00 for ink that will last you over a year of printing.

I went ahead and got the Epson ET-7750 as it was the only A3 photo option of the EcoTank line.  This also mean I paid a lot more for the printer. It did come with two sets of bottles allowing enough ink for three years worth of printing (roughly 3,600 colour prints). A full set would cost around £66.00 and last me almost two years according to their calculations.  My previous printer (Cannon pixmia) would cost me £80 for a full set of original inks and I’d be lucky to have it last two months if I had heavy printing to do.

Testing the A3 borderless printing.

So I have my new printer, I’ve ordered some muslin cloth for the spine, I’ve ordered A4 Silk 150 g/m² paper and I will probably order some A4 Semi-Gloss photo paper for the cover if I decide to go soft cover. I already have acid free PVA glue and brushes, I own binder clips and my new house has a workbench with metal vice grips that I could use as well.

Preparing the pdf’s

I have owned Adobe CS2 since the early 00’s when I did some freelance graphic design work from home.  Unfortunately Adobe Acrobat Pro 8 does not work with Windows 8.0 on up. That means I can not use it with my Windows 10.  Seriously pisses me off as Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign CS2 all work with Windows 10.  I don’t use it enough these days to justify the cost of purchasing it again, that and I despise the annual subscription cost.  So I now have to use multiple programs to do what I used to be able to do with Acrobat 8 Pro.

Currently using

If I print and bind five Pyramid Magazines it is an average of 225 pages per book (the first five will be 215 not including extra pages I add). So somewhere between the thickness of GURPS Space and GURPS Martial Arts. Soda PDF allows me to insert Page Numbers so each magazine will have two sets.  The one in the bottom middle (original numbers) that only correspond with each individual Pyramid issue and the book page numbers which I will use and add a overall table of contents AND an index.

Since making this picture example I’ve decided to place the page number in the upper middle as Soda PDF can not alternate the location of the page number which would result in half the pages having the number near the spine.

 

Average COST FACTOR

Paper 225 pages: £0.05 per page of 150 g/m² Silk White A4 paper £11.25

2 sheets of A3 cardstock, 1 A4 for soft cover: £1.00

Ink Cost 225 pages: at 1.1 cents per colour page (mostly not coloured so high average) £2.47

Glue: £0.20 rough guess but acid free PVA is pretty cheap

Muslin Cloth: £0.50

Greyboard 1mm thick (if I go hard cover) £1.66

Book Cloth: £1.20 (If I go Hard Cover)

Softcover Cost estimate: £15.42

Hardcover Cost estimate: £17.28

LuLu cost is £6.10 for paper back B&W or £37.70 for colour perfect bound book of 225 pages.  So not cheaper if I want to do a B&W book, but much cheaper if I do Colour.  Plus LuLu uses 118 g/m² for colour and 89 g/m² for B&W.  However where is the joy in the LuLu book?  Soon I will have a bound book that I made myself (minus the contents of course)

The big expense was not getting a cheaper paper.  In hindsight I could have gotten away with ordering 100 g/m² Silk White A4 paper. I’ve found some other sellers that are cheaper at £0.04 for 100 g/m²  Silk A3 or £0.02 for 100 g/m² Silk White.  That would have reduced the price considerably. It pays to shop around!

My next post will be assembling the book, I just need to wait for the rest of the items to arrive. Part TWO HERE