I went ahead to purchased the PoD GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Planner from Amazon for the express reason of writing a review. I’ve been fairly negative of SJG in the past few years with the lack of GURPS support (compared to previous years of releases) so I figured I’d put my money where my mouth is and purchase both the pdf and a physical copy of the book. I was going to show photographs of my filled out book but as my adventure with my group has been delayed I didn’t want to show spoilers or wait another few weeks to publish this post. So I wont’ be including those. I may update the post once they have gone through the adventure.
As I have stated in a few previous posts the Amazon PoD (Print on Demand) is much better than it was with the release of the first DFRPG (Dungeon Fantasy Role Playing Game) Companion 1. I’m almost tempted to purchase another Companion 1 to see if there is a difference in quality. For the purpose of the physical makeup of the book I would like the reader to know that I have had some professional training in traditional bookbinding for a few years (although all my courses have been put on hold due to the pandemic). To start out with my PoD was printed in Great Britain. It may vary in North America or where ever you are able to get your PoD from.
There is a crease that is 7mm from the spine. You should gently fold the cover over from the crease before opening the spine. Do this for the front and back cover. Then carefully open the book and turn the pages not from the spine but from the crease in the cover. This will ensure a longer life to your perfect bound book as it will put less stress on the adhesive spine.
What is a perfect bound book? A book binding in which a layer of adhesive holds the pages and cover together. I detest the term Perfect Bound as it is far from perfect. However perfect bound books do have a place on the market as they are cheap and fast to produce. The quality can range from horrible, as in it might last a couple of months. Or a proper hot melt adhesive that can take a bit of abuse.
The book is sized so it will fit inside your Dungeon Fantasy RPG box or on the shelf with your other DFRPG books including the Nordland Sagas. I personally appreciate the consistency. The cover is cardstock (soft cover) with a full colour cover that is consistent with GURPS 4e cover design. Again something that I appreciate. I might have a touch of OCD but then don’t we all in some way! You all have to have the light switches facing the same direction in your house don’t you?
The paper is approximately 90 gsm and takes both Graphite Pencil, Coloured Pencil, and ballpoint ben (bic) very well. Markers, artist pens, and such do tend to bleed through a bit.
Overall Design and Layout
The interior of the book is black and white with a few grey-scale pictures recycled from previous DFRPG books. This pictures are used to fill some blank areas and chosen well. Newly commissioned art would have driven the price of the book up. It consists of 48 pages of printed material and two blank sheets at the end which can be used anyway you would like. Now as for the Black and White. Take a look at the original Room Map page and what I propose be a change.
All the dark black writing lines and grids makes it difficult to see and read properly (at least for myself) unless you’re using a blue ballpoint pen. It is a minor issue but since they were able to print in grayscale for the images I would assume they could print grey for some of the lines as well. I do not know if this would have increased the book price as my experience is in binding books traditionally not printing books.
On page 2 and 3 is the overall Dungeon map followed by a Planning Form. The form is consistent with all SJG (Steve Jackson Games) forms whether spells and traps, or world building. Again I like the consistency in design. Book name and page numbers are given to help aid you in filling out the information. This is very good for new players and old. I myself am back from a hiatus of playing GURPS and I found this useful not only in reminding me where to find the information but also helping me write down little details I might have forgotten when writing my adventure digitally in Microsoft OneNote as I usually do.
Rooms & History of the Adventure
Page 4 is like a table of content for the 16 rooms that you can fit in this planner. Something I might not have thought of if I’m honest with myself. While the opposite page 5 is an overall history of the dungeon/adventure. Space is given for the Creator, original purpose, Current over (nice), and Important NPC’s. At the bottom of this page is an image from the SJG Cardboard Heroes Dragons. It is nice to have imagery to break up the monotony of text but I feel this space could have been better used with more lines for text. Just my personal preference.
Room/Encounter Description Page
Don’t expect enough room for three page descriptions. This is a single page with 1/3 given to Appearance/Description and the rest for details such as Encounter type, features, obstacles, etc. I wouldn’t call it sparse. I would call it efficient and just enough. Especially as they place the page numbers in Exploits to look up the rules. These two pages go from pages 6 & 7 until 36 & 37.
Supporting information and cast of characters
Pages 38-40 are Wandering Monsters and Random tables. Very useful!
Pages 41-43 are monster sheets. Either copy over monsters from Monsters 1 and Monsters 2 or create your own original monsters.
Pages 44 & 45 are dedicated to Trap forms
46+ is for notes.
There have been many complaints that the pdf version is not form fillable. Personally I understand the frustration. However at $2.95 USD I think expecting a fillable form on the pdf is a bit much to ask. You can get free pdf software which will allow you to edit and make the DF Planner a form filled pdf yourself. The advantages to just the pdf over print is you can add extra pages yourself for a larger adventure then just 16 Rooms/Encounters.
I originally purchased the planner solely for writing a review on it and to support my favorite game system. However it actually showed something to myself in the process of using it. First off that I’ve become too reliant on word processors and apps to run and plan my games. Secondly I really enjoyed hand drawing my maps and writing down my details. Less so writing down my details but that is because my handwriting has gotten rubbish over the last 20 years. Thirdly I now have something tangible that I helped create that won’t suffer internet connection problems or hard drive crashes.And fourthly I actually retained more of the information that I physically wrote down more than I do typing.
So is the physical planner worth the £7.31 PoD price tag? Yes and No is the only answer I can give you. Yes in that I personally enjoyed physically working on it. No in that a 48 room adventure would cost you £21.93 to write in. It is a fine balance. I do not for an instant regret purchasing the PoD. However given my skill level I can manipulate the pdf to add extra pages, renumber the pages, change it to a form fillable if needed, change the lines and grid to light grey, print it on short grained A3 paper, paginate it myself in to proper sections, sew and bind it into a hard cover book. And that might make a great multiple blog post project!
Hopefully once my party finishes this adventure I can share interior photos of my book. So I hope my review has been helpful!
If you read the multitude of blogs out there Campaigns rarely last for more than a year or two before either the players get bored or the GM gets burnout. My last attempt at a Megadungeon was to convert Dungeon Crawl Classic #51 Castle Whiterock and that lasted for two levels before the group disbanded due to some moving away, others not able to schedule game time in due to real life commitments. This hasn’t stopped me from wanting to run an epic megadungeon game which is why I’ve been slowly coming up with a fantasy setting that takes place completely underground.
Planning my Megadungeon
If my Megadungeon is endless then I should make some kind of “overland” map to get an idea of where the players may be heading so I know what lies ahead (or below). I first got the idea of using a Transit Style map for a quick abstract guide back in 2010 with Profantasy Softwares May 2010 Annual “Abstract Maps”. I was pretty pleased with myself until I realised that Gary Gygax had done almost the same thing in 1978 (two years before I discovered D&D) with Dungeon Module D1 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth.
Gygax came up with an easy system, much like a transit map, of showing the players where they were in relation to where they have been, albeit in an abstract form. This frees up the GM from having to make miles of rooms and corridors that will never get explored. Each “transit line” would represent the main route, whether it is a long winding cavern, a massively wide corridor, or a tiny one yard wide passage. Along the indicated route you have marker points that represent either encounter points, Burrows (Residential Towns), or large campaign size dungeon. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing between point A and point B. It just means the players will not be mapping and exploring those points at this time.
Now on a transit map, which now has a pretty standardised look worldwide thanks to Harry Beck’s 1933 London Underground Map, each rail line as a designated colour. However I’m not making a rail system I’m designing a Megadungeon! So I propose to make an elevation colour meter to give a sense of what level the routes are. I may make an isometric map once I get enough points created
As you can see from the maps above the region map will represent eight levels. Now the colour of which it intersects with a Burrow can indicate how many levels it has. Take Silkdown. It has a Level 1 and 2 major route. So it would be safe to say that it has at least two levels, although this is not always the case. Following the Level 2 route from Silkdown it suddenly raises from level 2 to level 6. This could indicate an elevator, stairs, shaft, or a sloped raise from 2-6 without any exits between the other levels. I will be including some dashed and dotted routes to indicate lesser used to secret routes.
I’ve kept a hexagon grid system on the regional map so that I might scale in to more detailed areas (see image below) I will also be able to link up other regional maps in the future to this one thus increasing the size of the dungeon. Whatever scale I end up with will be in some way able to scale perfectly with my 7″ modular tiles so I can make some modular dungeon on the quick and slot them in.
Encounter areas can be anything from a point of interest, to something special about the passage, to a small series of rooms, to a full blown dungeon area. Again this is a concept utilized by Gary Gygax in 1978. I like this idea as it allows the players to travel farther afield without having to map out the entire four day journey which would bore even the most OCD of gaming mappers.
Another way of showing depth and scope, other than 3D modeling everything or isomorphic mapping, is to use a 2D side view. About ten years ago this became quite the craze kicked off by Stonewerks’s and Dyson. It became so popular that Profantasy even made a mapping anual for vertical dungeons in 2011. My first introduction to a vertical dungeon map was in 1981 with the vertical map in the D&D Basic book. I stared at this picture constantly and tried my hand at drawing my own.
I should point out that there is Node Based mapping for megadungeons.
The Angry GM uses an encounter overlay based map, but different then the transit style. It certainly has its merits but I don’t think this would work for my own particular style.
I’m finding out that there are many ways to create an “overland dungeon” map, There isn’t a right or wrong way. Had I the skill or the time to learn I’d quite like to make a big old 3D render, but that isn’t practical. So for now I will stick with the abstract transit style map and use some vertical dungeons for a quick overview of larger areas that don’t need to be fully explored. No adventuring party walks into a small town and immediately starts to survey the entire place. They go to the inn and the shops and the rest of it is just decoration.
I hope you found this an interesting read, if you have any suggestions please make a comment!
As mentioned in a previous post (read it here) I’ve been playing a weekly game of Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS using Roll20 to get together as we are dealing with the lockdown here in the UK. It has been an amazing experience mostly because I’ve not actually played GURPS as a player in so many years. It is also nice to have new players and seeing the widely different play styles. Alex, who plays Grobar the Holy Warrior, is a fountain of knowledge and experience on GURPS. I don’t play regularly enough these days and I can certainly say I’ve forgotten more than I knew about the rules over the last fifthteen years. Alex has been a real boon to the party as he makes tactical and rule options for our characters, but in a helpful way not in a rules lawyer kind of way. Ricardo’s character Saskar doesn’t hit as hard as Grobar or Zelenka but his DX is higher and is able to get those rapid strikes “TO THE FACE” (as he shouts) with moderate accuracy. He is also our source of comedy and keeps us laughing with his rapid fire memes on the discord channel. Filipe was playing Roland the mage but commitments has taken him out of the game for what we hope is only a short time. All brought together through Gus, our GM, whos descriptions of our scene draws life to the game. I haven’t had this much fun in years!
Paragons of the Six Divines
Gus told me to design my own religion for the game so I came up with the “Paragons of the Six Divines”. It is a holy order of six immortals who where said to once be mortals themselves, found immortality and through cultivation and their own pure deeds ascended to godhood. As such they don’t appeal to the common man who need gods of agriculture, the forge, war, and other aspects of the mortal realms. The Paragons of the Six Divines are a symbol of what man can achieve through selfless acts of kindness, sacrifice, honor, and truthfulness. What many find unattainable or unwilling to endure. Their order is best known for their charitable institutions; hospitals, schools, and orphanages. These can be found throughout the lands and open to anyone, something that has caused friction with some local customs or laws. However most kingdoms have not only grown accustomed to their services but heavily rely on them which affords the order some grace. Most monks, nuns, and clerics of the Six were residents of the orphanages and grew up within the faith.
Paragons of the Six Divines
Honor – To do what is morally right. Represented by the God Conlaoch
Courage – strength in the face of pain or grief. Represented by the Goddess Parthenia
Magnanimity – generosity. Represented by the goddess Rione
Patience – acceptance of problems and suffering. Represented by the God Vivasat
Justice – just behaviour or treatment. Represented by the God Bran
Truthfulness– the fact of being realistic or true to life; realism. Represented by the Goddess Erosi
Paragons of the Six Divines are extremely popular with orders chivalry. Those that can become living representations of the six can ascend to Sainthood and become Demi-Gods. They are highly respected but few have what it takes to follow their strict regime. Because of this the God Vivasat is the most popular out of the six although each deity has an equal standing in the pantheon. Anyone is welcome to worship although they are more popular with Humans, Elves, some Dwarves, and a few Gnomes.
Setting the scene
This is where I bore everyone about the back story and adventures of my character. We started out at 150 points rather than the standard 250 points. This is about four sessions worth of info so I certainly understand the TLDR people.
Zelenka Dagian (meaning Fresh Dawn) is a Half-Ogre who’s human mother died giving birth to an ugly half-breed. She died at one of the charity hospitals of Paragons of the Six Divines. Zelenka’s childhood was not without strife, despite being members of the Six the monks were very cruel to Zelenka and many of the other children were encouraged to leave him alone and if they were mean to him the monks would look the other way. They would also “punish his inherent wickedness” at the smallest infraction of the rules. Many would expect such a child to grow up as wickedly as he was treated, and that might have been the case if it wasn’t for the Abbot Svoboda of the monastery and Kateřina Dvořák the Cleric of the county. They taught Zelenka to read the true meaning of the scriptures, how the care for others through sacrifice, being patient and accepting, how truth starts within oneself and in doing so brings honor and justice to the world.
The bishop himself, Casimir Sedlák, was well pleased with Zelenka’s progress, “Although a bit dim he would make a proud member of our Holy Order” The bishop fully intended for Zelenka to be added to the ranks of Holy Warriors. At sixteen Zelenka was already six foot and a naturally built warrior. Instead of a cleric’s staff he was taught the polearm by sergeant Borek Mazal, now retired but famed for his Poleaxe squad “Deliverance of Mercy” or just “Mercy” for short. At the battle of Passhead Valley Sgt. Mazal commanded 20 pikeman and held off a hoard of 70 goblins long enough for the village to be evacuated. In reality it was thirty but the story keeps growing.
Zelenka had no interest in causing harm to others if he could avoid it and wanted nothing more than to stay in the cloister on a sunny day with a book or scroll, or to work in the hospital tending the sick and wounded. The Bishop persisted that his place was with the warriors and so his training in arms and armour continued. When Zelenka finished his studies at the age of twenty it became apparent to everyone, including the Bishop, that Zelenka had an aptitude for not only healing but a strong connection with the Paragons of the Six Divines (I increased his Power Investiture) compared to the other deacons. Although gentle, honest, and true to his studies Zelenka didn’t have the mental capabilities as the other deacons (IQ 11 instead of 14-15) but was nonetheless ordained a Cleric of the Six.
Upon receiving his new status he was given a gift from his mentors. A fine silver plated, dwarven made Bec de corbin (thus reducing the penalty of not being able to parry after an attack), and a suit of leather armor.
Two months after being ordained Zelenka received a dream message about a monk of the Six who always kept himself in a deep cowl and never showed his face. Zelenka was tasked with finding his resting place and bringing the monks remains back to the monastery. After spending weeks in study he finally found enough clues that Zelenka was positive of the monks locations. He appealed to his superiors to get him funding to retrieve the remains but he was denied. Zelenka wrote to the Bishop himself but was dismissed as “An overactive imagination induced by the stress passing the seminary and now lack of direction and focus.” Zelenka was then tasked with hospital duty for the next several weeks to focus on those with real needs.
After one long day of healing Zelenka returned to his straw pallet, exhausted and fatigued. Rolling on his side and about to blow out his candle he spies a letter on the floor. In his exhaustion he did not see it upon entering his room. Curiosity got his groaning body out of bed and opened the letter. It was from an unnamed benefactor who was not only going to fund his expedition but was able to get him a signed letter from the Bishop allowing him to proceed with his quest! ” goddess Rione be praised”
Long story short he met Rowan the Mage and Saskar the Knight (Horseman from the North) and hired them to accompany him on the week long journey into wild country. Once a price was agreed upon Zelenka purchased the needed supplies and a pack donkey to carry it all. The trip out was uneventful, but did give the three newbie heroes time to get to know each other. Their weariness of a six foot, eight inch tall Half-Ogre soon gave way to his honest and kind nature.
They reached the area and scouted it out. The visions led Zelenka to believe they needed to go into the mines but it was getting late and they decided to scout out the ruined town nearby first and make camp. That night they were ambushed by the Undead, two of us being prone and Saskar on watch. Long story short we got our buttocks handed to us with everyone taking damage and Rowan being knocked unconscious. I failed to heal anyone in the party but myself, so as a Cleric I realise the fault was not with me, not with the dice, but obviously my companions were not pure at heart so my Gods refused to heal them. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
We rested for a day do to our injuries and fortified our little encampment as best we could. Once we are healed up with take to the mines. We agreed to take donkey with us as we didn’t want to leave him to be victim to the undead in the ruined town. Heading into the mine we notice that there are rooms, crypts, a chapel all carved out as well. Showing that this was once a very thriving mining town! I ask that we go to the Chapel first and I see a altar to the Paragons of the Six Divines with two suits of plate armor on either side of it. When we step in the suits come alive and take an attack stance then start to move toward us!
Zelenka shows no fear, for these are certainly constructs to protect against the unfaithful! Taking his holy symbol he fearlessly (yes I made my roll) walks to the animated armor and recites his prayers. The suits at that point stop all hostilities and collapse in a heap. One of the suits chest plate and lower legs will just fit Zelenka, but the arms, shoulders and upper legs are too small. Zelenka takes one of the shields from the holy armor and straps it to his back. He feels he should learn the shield sometime in the future (or if I can get my ST to 18 I can use the Bec de corbin with one hand!). Zelenka spends some time at the altar praying before heading to the crypts.
We head into the crypts and disturb some kind of creature that is unknown to any of us. Zelenka casts Sense Evil while Saskar and Rowan prepare for battle. The creature is truly evil and severely damages Saskar! Zelenka uses Turning to keep the monster at bay while Rowan and Saskar dispatch it!
Down it’s putrid hole in the ground filled with rubbish and rot Zelenka uncovers a Vellum Scroll in an older dialect. There is some kind of prophecy written on it. When Zelenka reads some of it an ArchAngel appears before Zelenka (and Zelenka only, maybe he is dilusional? Nah.) and tells him of the prophecy and charges Zelenka with a holy mission! During his trance like state the head of Donkey comes flying into the room. and we are beset on by a Minotaur and a Giant!
We chose our tactics better than our first battle with the Skeletons and dispatched the pair although we took considerable damage. Saskar, who took a liking to donkey, kills the Giant in a revenge fueled rage.
We didn’t get enough time to lick our wounds as the commotion brings in a stranger to investigate the noise. Enter Grobar the Holy Warrior on a quest to put the undead where they belong! Back in the ground. What better way of doing that than his very effective Combat Shovel (DF Adventures page 102)! After some time to size each other up we decide its in our best interests to align ourselves and clear out this undead and monster infestation. It doesn’t take long either before we are set upon by more skeletons!
Pushing forward through the skeletons we are ambushed by evil dwarves with crossbows. They really beat the crap out of us. However we were able to rally ourselves at the last minute, Rowan gets knocked unconscious again, Grobar scrambles up the cliff face to take out the Dwarven crossbowmen and Zelenka grabs Saskar and throws him like a sack of rice up over the cliff face. The pair of them easily dispatch the crossbowman (crossbowdwarves?) and the evil cleric dwarf gets away by escaping down a deep pit.
Mind you I’m writing this weeks after all the events of several gaming sessions and I can’t seem to find many posts with battle pics for the next part. However we find the tomb of the Hooded Monk and the sanctity of his tomb is AMAZING for my cleric! We get attacked by Drow and Drider but with Zelenka able to regain his fatigue almost instantly they were not as serious of a threat as I think they would have been away from the are of high sanctity! Thank goodness for Contingency Casting (DFA20) as well!
Our next threat is an Earth Elemental and Zelenka freezes in combat! It is up to the rest of the group to dispatch the rocky creature! Its at this point that Rowan leaves the group as Filipe has real world obligations to attend to. We hope to see him back soon!
Gus starts experimenting with dynamic lighting and it certainly adds a new element to the game! Because of my nightvision 3 I can see farther than the other players and it was very immersive having them ask, “What do your elf eyes see Legolas?” Well more damn Skeletons that is for sure.
During this battle our rolls were spot on, some of us still took damage but Zelenka was able to dispatch three of them! Not single handedly of course. Saskar and Grobar soften them up. Sometimes going last isn’t a bad thing! “One of the skeletons drop an unholy mace. We left it where it laid, mostly because when Saskar tried to lift it he could not budge it. Not nasty enough to lift the unholy mjolnir!
We’re so tactical we weaponized tardiness
Our next victim, um I mean opponent is a Bleeder. We were honestly extremely lucky with the dice! It didn’t inflict any damage to us otherwise we might have been in some trouble! Also there was only one and not a Bleeder horde!
Our last session and final creature was a Bone Golem! That thing messed us up for sure! Zelenka failed his fright check, and his Willpower rolls and was out of action for four full rounds! During that time Grobar and Saskar inflicted considerable damage on the beast but both ended up getting stabbed and injected with venom. Grobar was knocked out and Saskar could barely stand. Finally the sight of his dying companions snapped Zelenka out of his shock and he used Contingency “Awaken” Both make their HT rolls and are up and ready for more! With that we dispatched the Golem and collapse into a weary heap to rest and heal.
Zelenka was late again to the battle but to quote Ricardo again
Back in September 2019 (read it HERE) I posted about Gaming Ballistic‘s latest Kickstarter which would eventually get 420 backers pledging $24,912 to produce four books for the Norðlond Sagas. These books are
The Dragons of Rosgarth
112 pages written by Kyle Norton & Douglas H. Cole. Full colour softcover book with lay flat binding. Essentially it works just like a ‘Hollow’ in a hardcover book allowing the book to lay almost completely flat without putting undue stress on the spine covering. I’ve had some considerable training in hand bookbinding. I’ve taken several workshops and completed Level One and Two training in London City & Guilds courses in bookbinding. That being said I’m very pleased with the binding and sewing of these books.Sewn signatures will last much longer than just glued sheets as are done in a Perfect Bind.
Now what about the content of The Dragons of Rosgarth? The events that unfold in the books expand on what was hinted at in Hall of Judgement. It takes place in Isfjall roughly 300 miles east of Norðvörn where we were first introduced to Douglas Cole’s “Not Really Icelandic” fantasy setting. You are given enough background information to set an adventure that will span a hundred mile journey with enough to keep the players busy. Background information for the main NPC’s is provided making it easier for the GM to direct their actions. Over 20 new monsters in the Bestiary, some of which I hope I never have to come across as a player (I’m looking at you Stothtroll!). The story line is not linear which for a GM makes it much easier to run. Nothing is worse then trying to herd players down a single path.
The artwork is lovely and the maps are by Monkey Blood Design who I’m particularly fond of his works. On a side note I was very pleased that the May 2020 Cartography Annual from ProFantasy was done by Glynn Seal! I have read most of The Dragons of Rosgarth before my physical copy arrived but it is more enjoyable to have the book in your hand rather than on a backlit screen. I can’t thumb through a pdf with as much enjoyment.
92 pages written by Merlin Avery. Same binding quality as The Dragons of Rosgarth. My only issue with the pages is the border graphic. It’s sharp contrast is distracting when reading. I’m dyslexic and things like that and page colour really matter. Maybe if it was more of a solid colour than the flames and black from the background graphic it would have been a bit better.
Forest’s End is an adventure book with dungeons! I’m really torn between wanting to run this and wanting to be a player in it! The information provided within makes it easy to use with the other books in the series. I would be nice to be able to purchase posters of the dungeons with 1″ Hexes much like the ones from “I Smell a Rat” that came in the box set of DFRPG. Obviously the cost and logistics of such an option would be a nightmare but maybe the option to purchase the images and getting them printed online or locally could be an option for the future? Who knows, I will suggest it though.
Lots of little gems in the book as well, such as new traps, random tables, and 20 Monsters and NPC’s. I particularly like the Blóðughúfa (redcap) as it represents how horrid and evil faerie can be. GURPS Faerie is one of my favourite books which heavily influenced my first GURPS Fantasy campaign in which I replaced having Gods with Fey.
16 page booklet by Kevin Smyth. This stapled booklet is on heavier paper than the previous two books. Lovely full coloured pages with amazing artwork on each page.16 templates to use with your Dungeon Fantasy RPG games. Obviously geared toward Norðlond Sagas, they can be used in any DFRPG setting. Lots of beast races such as the “Not Really Egyptian” Cat-Folk, Björnhjarta (Bear-Folk), Gullinálmur (Boar-Folk), Úlfblóðugur (Wolf-Blooded), Hrafnar (Raven-folk), and the very odd Triger-Folk.
A delightful section on Half-Breeds which takes me back to 2008’s Dungeon Fantasy 3 The Next Level (has it really been 12 years!) with races as Dragon-Blooded, Eldhuð (Demon-Blooded), and Himneskur (God-Blooded) with it’s clever artwork.
We also get a more Norðlond version of Dvergr (Dwarves), Elfàrd (Elves), Gnomes, Vandræðagemsi (Fae Gnomes), Half-Ogres, Half-Orcs, Neveri Halflings, and Hálfálfar (Half-Elves)
The Hand of Asgard
Like Norðlondr Fólk, The Hand of Asgard is a booklet of 16 pages stapled together also written by Kevin Smyth. Thick full colour paper of good quality and with some lovely artwork. The Hand of Asgard is a must for GM’s and any player wanting to play a Cleric or Holy Warrior. Kevin Smyth adds both Cleric Spell list and Holy might and suggestions for Holy Warriors as well. There are no stats for the ten Gods listed, I mean they are Gods after all! However there is a lovely surprise of Valkyrie’s in the back of the book!
To be honest I was unsure of how useful The Hand of Asgard was going to be at 16 pages but there really is 16 pages of very useful information to use. It isn’t just a fluff piece.
I have not been this excited since opening up the Dungeon Fantasy RPG box set back in October 2017. Gaming Ballistic have continued to offer a quality item that makes me feel like I’m 10 years old again playing D&D with my school mates. The Norðlond Sagas for me are like Forgotten Realms of my late teenage years full of information on the culture, area, and history which lays the foundation for adventures for years! Hints of “Not Really England” and thoughts of “Not Really Japan” have been mentioned (although nothing concrete or binding). Personally I’d really like to see a “Not Really China” Wuxia setting for DFRPG set in a Three Kingdoms period or Warring States.
So congratulations to Douglas H. Cole, Kyle Norton, Merlin Avery, and Kevin Smyth on four wonderful products! We hope to see more in future! Also a thank you from this fan to Steve Jackson Games for signing off on these great books, I also hope to see more DFRPG from SJG in the future.
I’m playing a weekly game of Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS. We are using Roll20 to play the game and it has been a learning experience as I’ve not played GURPS in some time.
I decided to try something that I’ve never done before and I’m playing a Cleric. However I wanted to do something unique so I’m playing a Half-Ogre Cleric that uses a Bec de corbin, a type of Pole Axe (permission granted from the GM to switch Staff with Poleaxe). I’ve selected it to be Dwarven, Fine, Silver plated, Power Item with 7 FP. This will offset the unbalanced penalty allowing the character to attack and defend normally.
It has been years and years since I have been able to play GURPS as a player and it took some getting used to. That and playing with new people meant learning how to interact with their specific play styles, characters, and tactics. It has been a fun experience and has sparked a renewed interest in gaming.
It has been over five years since I used Roll20 and there have been a few upgrades since I last used it. One thing I am particularly fond of is the GURPS character sheet which really speeds up the gaming.
Of course I still much prefer to play in person as you don’t have audio issues, drop of internet, and other technical glitches. However with Covid-19, lockdown, self isolation it really is the best option. Plus there are not that many players in my location so being able to play with people at least in the same time zone is helpful! The plus side with the lockdown is more people are home and they are happy to find days to play when I have a day off as I’m still doing shift work and don’t always have the same days off from week to week.
I finally broke down and ordered Amazon PoD copies of Companions 2 and Magic Items 2. Now I was extremely critical about the first Companions PoD book (read it HERE). I stick by what I said and I’m still annoyed that SJG do not even attempt to find an EU and South American publisher for easier distribution of their printed products, but I’m not an expert in these things I’m just a customer.
That being said Companions 2 and Magic Items 2 were much better quality then Companions was by a long shot. Full colour pages, better quality paper, much more what I have come to expect from Steve Jackson Games in the past.
Now the content is of both books are great resources for those playing Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Companion 2 gives 16 magical items, 6 new monsters which includes Adventure Seed ideas and the option to play a Centaur as a delver! Also 14 NPC villains with optional new Racial Templates, Advantages, Traits and a Spell. Certainly makes it worth having in your library. Magic Items 2 has 48 pages and 44 different magic items to entice or harass your players with.
Combining both books together opens a world of possibilities. I was very inspired to use Lady Aimara DFC2(50) and possibly the sword Xingyung (DFMI2 46) in a Wuxia inspired adventure.
I certainly hope we will see more Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS in the future!
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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 centsforfourcoloursusing 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.
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