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/