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/

Humble 3D Printable Dungeons!

Well it considering my last post this could not have come at a better time. Humble Bundle is having a mixed bundle of 3D printable dungeons! I know these are <yuk> square grids and not the majestic hexagon dungeons I prefer but it is a start into the realm of making a physical Mega Dungeon!

Fat Dragon Games, Black Scrolls Games, Hobgoblin-3D, and Iain Lovecraft have all contributed to this Bundle to help raise money for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

Humble 3D Printable Dungeons & Cities for 5e
Iain Lovecraft Jungle City: Ground Tiles (would be better in hexes)
Black Scrolls Games Killer Mushrooms
Hobgoblin3D Abandoned Mausoleum
Fat Dragon Games Dragonlock Ultimate: Dungeon Starter Set (would be better in hexes)

Until I either learn how how to 3D model my own dungeons (because I have soooo much time on my hands) these will be a good place to start my delving into 3D printed dungeons. Get your while the sale is on and help support a good cause. You also get 30% off from one of the contributors on your first purchase!

Take 30% off all titles at Fat Dragon Games, Black Scroll Games, Hobgoblin3D, and Iain Lovecraft!
Note: User registration required to redeem discount. Limit one redemption per account.
Offer expires 6/30/19 at 11:59pm Pacific

3D Printed Dungeons

I’m currently doing more craft related stuff for DFRPG/DF than I am actually playing. The troubles with living in a University City is the transient population and most of my players have moved away. My new job only gives me 1 full weekend off a month, 1 Saturday, and 1 Sunday. So at best I could get in two games a month which would be great. However I’d have to find a group that will commit to those days. I’d also would rather play in person rather than via a host client like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.

I’m contemplating if I should purchase commercially designed dungeons for 3D printing, free dungeons from Thingiverse, or have a crack at designing my own. The last option would take years to accomplish. There are plenty of beautiful Gloomhaven tiles out there but they are 1.5″ and not 1″ hexes and that is a deal breaker with me. I have considered printing the Hex Geomorph dungeons in 15mm scale but you lose a lot of detail and at that point I should just stick with the magnetic tiles.

Some options I’m looking at is Game Decor which has some very nice and affordable designs for sale. They also have a few different styles so you can theme your dungeons. “DungeonWorks uses the InfinityLock system for superior customization, connection, and efficiency. DragonLock and OpenLock are compatible with the InfinityLock system via free adapter clips.”

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Game Decor

Fat Dragon Games has moved away from paper terrain into 3D printed terrain. FDG uses the “DragonLock” to keep the tiles together. Nice models and support from the owner.

Fat Dragon Games
Printable Scenery

Printable Scenery has a huge set of terrain and it all uses the Open Lock system. I don’t know if Open Lock is compatible with DragonLock

Printable Scenery

Rocket Pig Games has some interesting dungeons but it uses a completely non compatible style of connecting the tiles which makes it unattractive. They are also more expensive than the previous three.

Tilescape Trial Pack
Rocket Pig Games, not Lock compatible

Open Forge is compatible with Dragon Bite, Open Lock, and Infinity Lock. It is also Free on Thingiverse! I just wish he would clean up his prints for the photographs.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that if it isn’t “Lock” compatible then it isn’t worth the effort no matter how affordable, or how amazing it looks. I will also have to resign myself to square tiles and use the GURPS Range Ruler during play. However I will not stop the Hex Dungeons and maybe someday I will learn how to 3D model enough to design my own HexCrawl 3D models. I also wonder about the wall height and how that works together.

Laminating

I finally bought a laminator. I went ahead and got the A3 size (297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 in) so I can make laminated book covers for my handmade books. However I found another use for it as well. I.D. laminator pockets are A7 size (74 x 105 mm or 2.9 x 4.1 in) and fits my playing card size Combat Maneuver cards perfectly.

The biggest problem I’ve had with them is they don’t slide like normal playing cards. Well now they do and they are protected from spills as well! Now to spend most of a day laminating enough for all eight players! I’ve also ordered a corner rounder so I can trim off the excess plastic so they fit in card cases.

You can download the form fill pdf’s to make your own cards HERE

A3 Laminator
Will round corners at 3mm, 5mm, and 8mm

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!

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