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Explore and conquer in a Norse-inspired land with Dragon Heresy, with modified 5E rules. Secure your place in the sagas, or die trying!
Explore and conquer in a Norse-inspired land with Dragon Heresy, with modified 5E rules. Secure your place in the sagas, or die trying!
Explore and conquer in a Norse-inspired land with Dragon Heresy, with modified 5E rules. Secure your place in the sagas, or die trying!
328 backers pledged $16,146 to help bring this project to life.

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The Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Fantasy RPG (5E-variant)

$16,146

328

King Krail of Torengar calls you to rid the border marches of Tanalor of fell beasts, unwholesome fae, and the remnants of the ancient dragon empire. Alongside friends and rivals, carve out your legend and your jarldom in the wild lands north of civilization, seeking fortune and glory worthy of skalds retelling.

In the Dragon Heresy Introductory set, you will find everything required to create your hero, play the game, and challenge fearsome foes.  

Venture forth under the eyes of the Aesir. Put your skill, strength, and sacred honor to the test. Find horror and death, or rise to take your place among the jarls of Torengar.  

Go forth and stake your claim. Your saga starts here.

The Dragon Heresy Introductory Set is a fully playable game, covering character creation, adventuring, combat, gear, and challenges. In the book you will find:

  • Norse-inspired culture, cosmology, and mythology
  • Deadly and tactically interesting combat
  • Rules and options to bring viking-style martial combat to the Fifth Edition of the world's most popular Fantasy RPG, with both tactical and narrative tools

The book will be approximately 256 pages, with major sections for

  • Character creation - including races, classes, backgrounds, and equipment
  • Core Mechanics - what's the same, and what's different, from the usual Fifth Edition rules
  • Running the Game - example rules for survival and overland travel in a hostile wilderness, risks and rewards, a random treasure generation table suitable for the levels in the book
  • Combat - all you need to live and die by violence, including melee weapons, new rules for shield use, grappling rules that don't suck, and more. Fights are not driven by attrition, integrating morale and the potential for sudden incapacitation
  • Injury, Rest, and Healing - Dragon Heresy differentiates strongly between wounds, vigor, and exhaustion to make resting vs. healing a meaningful distinction.
  • Spellcasting and Spell Lists from spell level 1-3
  • A brief introduction to the Norse-inspired world of Etera
  • Over 100 monsters custom-modified and rewritten to suit the mythology and cosmology of the Nine Realms

The game and contents are geared toward exciting play in these early levels. The "Introductory Set" get the players and GM acquainted with the new axes of engagement enabled by the new mechanics, and will be supported by future releases.

The Layout and Writing are Finished

The continent on which Torengar, Tanalor, and the rest of the lands in which the events of Dragon Heresy take place is called Etera. It is located in one of the nine realms: Midgard, which sits in the middle branches of Yggdrasil, the World Tree of Norse legend.

Dragon Heresy borrows (steals, loots, pillages . . . ) from Norse mythology and weaves it in with its own history to create a rich canvas on which to tell epic tales.

It is not necessary to know the millennia-long history of the continent on which they will be seeking their fortunes. What is necessary are mighty thews, a keen intellect, well-chosen spells, nerves of steel, and good judgment. But it can help, and both the GM and the players alike can gain inspiration from a brief history of Torengar, the former Dragon Empire in Tanalor, and the millenia-long conflict between the Elder Dragons, Fae, and the Aesir.

A beautiful map by Cornelia Yoder sets the stage for tales of High Adventure!

Dragon Heresy builds off of the excellent game engine in the Fifth Edition of the world's most popular Fantasy RPG, but with adjustments and additions made to match the feel of the setting and provide more nuance to combat and struggle

  • Division of HP into wounds and vigor for a more coherent treatment of rest and injury
  • Shields are way, way cooler, providing active defense using your reaction, and protection against missile weapons and other swift attacks not available to melee-only fighters
  • Enhanced use of existing mechanics to add nuance and risk to combat, especially exhaustion and reactions
  • The ability to aim and evaluate, make a called shot, and rules to ensure long-reach spear-fighters are a force to be reckoned with
  • Grappling rules that don’t suck! Dragon Heresy originated the rules that became Dungeon Grappling
  • The changes in the rules have been painstakingly rippled through the rules for monsters and spells, updating each where appropriate

The Dragon Heresy project has been underway for the better part of two years, and substantial pre-investment has been made to bring the book to its current state. So what's left?

  • Final Editing - getting a Fifth-Edition-aware editor on board for a final check of wording, grammar, and rules consistency
  • Indexing - A great book deserves a great index.
  • Remaining Art Spaces - there are a few art holes that need to be filled
  • Printing (covered by your pledge) and Shipping (which will be done in Backerkit)

That's really it. Backers at the Berserker and higher levels ($5 and more) will receive preliminary, playable copies of their electronic files the day the Kickstarter funds settle.

The Kickstarter preliminary goal will be $3,500, and pledge levels as follows  

Skald ($1)

Follow along and tell the tales of Dragon Heresy.

Berserker ($5)

As a Berserker, you're interested only in the wild fight. This pledge will get you a stripped-down set of the basic combat rules, highlighting some of the mechanical changes that make the game different. The version will have minimal layout, and no editing beyond the original draft. The reward is PDF only.

Thegn ($20)

At this level, you are a respected warrior and person of note in Torengar. It will give you the full-color PDF as soon as final layout, editing, and art insertion is complete.

Jarl ($50)

As a chief of Torengar, you are a peer with tangible evidence of your nobility. Your pledge entitles you to a hardcover B/W book made through print-on-demand or digital short-run printing, as well as the full-color PDF.

Styðja ($100)

The Icelandic word for "patron" is styðja, and this level is for those who wish to support the project and the acquisition and (frankly) reimbursement for the outstanding artwork that populates the book. The patron levels will feature their names prominently displayed in the backer list for the book, and listed as sponsors next to the art their work supports.

They will also receive their print copy of the book in full color, fulfilled through POD in hardback with premium paper, no matter what stretch goals are reached for the campaign.

Skald-hirð ($500)

The shield-guard of Torengar! At this level of patronage, you will receive, in addition to the game, a hand-built viking-style shield. These shields conform to most of the prime historical finds. Light hardwood (aspen) is butted together and fixed with reworkable hide glue. The wood is roughly 5/16 (8mm) thick at the boss, and starting about 7" from the edge, tapers sharply to roughly 5-6mm (some historical finds were as thin as 2.5mm of wood). It is edged in 1-oz goat hide, which is stitched in place with linen thread. The shield will be painted with the crest of Torengar, derived from the Dragon Heresy logo. The handle is oak, hand-carved in a D-section; the boss will be mild steel, the lightest I can find. The overall shield will be custom sized to the user up to 35.5" in diameter (larger and I can't get it into the mail other than at truly ridiculous rates; at 35.5" I can get it into a 36" frame mailer).

Plywood and hardwood shields that are much, much smaller can run $450-600; the pledge gets you the game and the shield, shipping included.

See the "risks" section for why I think I can pull this off. I have, in the past, made a dozen such shields in four days. Shipping is expensive, but that is scoped out. I am absolutely confident I can build and deliver the shields and the book and make the pledge worthwhile. If you have further questions, I will be happy to engage on this one.

Oh: and of course at this level I'll spring for a full-color premium POD hardcover, by DriveThruRPG to start, and better books if the campaign does well.

                                        The Crest of Torengar 

Shield with stitching but no goat-hide edging; boss on Torengar shields will be mild steel made by an expert in Viking Shieldcraft

Hand-carved oak handle, clinched attachment, and rivets
Hand-carved oak handle, clinched attachment, and rivets

Backing Dragon Heresy is about faith that I will deliver on what I have promised. Here are some endorsements of Gaming Ballistic from my two prior Kickstarters.

"I backed both of Doug's previous Kickstarter projects and found them to be professionally run and very transparent, with frequent updates. Doug was friendly, helpful, & quickly fixed a delivery issue. The quality of the products was excellent, from the content to the layout to the artwork. I was very pleased with what I received for backing these campaigns." -Dan Alban, Arlington, VA  

"Doug's openness, approachability, and his favorable community oriented showings on the SJ Games forum and his blog, combined with use of add on bundles at favorable prices, encouraged me to back both his Kickstarter's because I knew Doug's awesomeness would make d20 products cool. The products were cool." -Kalzazz (Backed both Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr)  

"I participated in both of Douglas Cole's previous Kickstarters, Dungeon Grappling and The Lost Hall of Tyr. Both went off swimmingly. The products were received on time, were exactly as described, and Douglas Cole's updates were both frequent and informative about the state of the project. I am greatly looking forward to the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter as I expect the same." -Brian Renninger  

"I, Anders Starmark, backed Hall of Tyr and from my perspective he handled the project with the utmost proffesionalism. Everything was delivered in time. As a playtester I had access to all the files I needed to run through the game in advance."

“Douglas got the product to me, all the way over in New Zealand, faster than I would have believed possible.” --Brett Tamahori  

“Based on my experience with the The Lost Hall of Tyr, Douglas Cole ran a very professional and well done Kickstarter. Product was delivered in a timely manner, communication was exquisite, and the product quality matches anything put out by other 3rd Party publishers or WotC.” -Jeromy French

"Dungeon Grappling: this was a very well run Kickstarter project, with illustrative updates and designer's notes at each stage of the work and also reaching the final results quickly. It's worth to note as well the author's openness to dialogue and feedback." -Axel Castilla

The stretch goals for the project are limited to reduce overall project risk.

$10,000 - Extra Content

If the Kickstarter reaches this funding level, we will eclipse both my prior total number of backers from both Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr. Plus, this level affords some extra room in the book, which I will fill with:

  • Additional races: Elves, Gnomes, and Tieflings
  • Additional Class Options: Skalds, plus three more clerical domains. Fluidity (Loki); Knowledge and Forsight (Woden), and Storms (Donnar).
  • Additional backgrounds: Five new backgrounds (Adept, Arcane Neophyte, Explorer, Rake, and Ruffian)

The backers at the time will vote on roughly 16 extra pages of content - roughly 10,000 words - to be included in the book. This will almost certainly bring the book to 272 pages.

$16,000 - Offset Printing

If the project hits this level,  I will upgrade all print copies shipped within the USA from POD to an offset print run with full color.

The cost of international shipping makes delivery from the US to not-the-US very expensive. International backers will be given a choice of POD through DriveThruRPG for their books or paying the exorbitant shipping fees to get one of the offset books.

I don't like it either. But as near as I can tell, the international shipping situation is getting worse, not better.

If I can find a better way to upgrade international orders, I will. I'm currently getting quotes from Livonia (in Latvia) and CPI (in the UK) and some of those look very favorable. No promises! But I want you to have the best book I can afford to make and reliably deliver.

$22,000 - Even More Content

Once again, the backer pool will get to choose even more content, and the book will swell to either 304 or 320 pages, depending on how things fit and go. This will a more complex reworking of what's includes, as some of the classes, especially the spellcasting classes, inflate the wordcount greatly (casters come not just with classes, but, well, spells as well).

There will be at least 16 extra pages, and more likely 32, added based on a poll that will go out when the goal is passed. All the remaining character classes, backgrounds, races, and even the multi-class section will be listed along with the wordcount they would add, and the backers will vote. I will fill up multiples of 16 pages to a maximum of 320 pages (which is a pretty hefty tome, unaffordable except in an offset run . . . but hey, we got that at $16,000. Let's do this.)

$75,000 - Deluxe Set Committment 

If the project manages to smash through to this level, the proceeds will be re-invested immediately in producing the Dragon Heresy Deluxe Edition.

The Deluxe Set is my dream for this project's ultimate form. Three volumes, each of 200-300 pages: The Book of Heroes, The Book of Deeds, and The Book of Foes. Each to the same standards, production values, and art content as the Intro Set.

The books have already been written. I've got 410,000 words of manuscript ready for editing and layout. What I don't have is the money for art, editing, and production for three books of that size. Not yet.

Note: Backers of the Introductory Set at the Thegn ($20 PDF) or Jarl and higher levels will receive a credit of $20 (PDF) or $50 (Print+PDF) towards the cost of the Deluxe set if we get to this point. I'll communicate more details if we get close!

Initially, print fulfillment will be through Print-on-Demand. This will be a mix of DriveThruRPG (for international orders) and various high-quality vendors that I have had experience with in the past. This has proven to provide the best quality at a reasonable price for worldwide delivery. Initial print target is Black and White interior and the full-color cover shown above. All PDFs are in full color.

I am always on the lookout for breakpoints and the opportunity to upgrade to an offset (color!) print run, especially attractive within the USA (where domestic shipping is very predictable, and mostly sane).

These "extra" products will be available in the Backerkit phase. If you wish to purchase them, plus-up your pledge by the amount shown.

Example: You're at the Styðja level ($100), but wish to purchase an extra copy of the book, plus a copy of Lost Hall of Tyr in softcover ($20). Increase your pledge to $120. When the time comes, you will see the goods for your pledge already in your Backerkit cart, and you'll have a $20 credit. Add the Lost Hall book, and then Backerkit will add shipping (to be determined later!), pay the balance, and done!

Dungeon Grappling ($7.50 PDF; $15 Print+PDF)

The grappling system from Dragon Heresy appeared first as a stand-alone product called Dungeon Grappling. Grappling is poorly served in most RPG system. Dungeon Grappling redresses that by blending the grappling system with the core combat system of d20-based games. It is a 52-page book available in Print, PDF, or as a bundle.

Was Dungeon Grappling successful at its mission? A bunch of folks seem to think so.

You can pick up the Print+PDF combo for $15, or the PDF for $7.50, in the Backerkit phase of the project.

Lost Hall of Tyr ($10 PDF; $20 Print+PDF)

Lost Hall of Tyr is an adventure scenario for Fifth Edition or Swords and Wizardry, targeted at characters who are established but are not yet the movers and shakers of the world.

It is geared towards 4-8 characters of level 4-7, with 28-32 total levels recommended.  

The module is set in Etera, in the cold reaches of the Frostharrow, but includes advice on how to drop it into any campaign and setting, so long as the journey and quest takes the party into the mountains and wilderness, in search of an object or goal that is valuable because of its history and contents, but not powerful by itself. The book contains many of the rules from Dragon Heresy for Wilderness Travel, weather and exposure, hunting and survival, and more.

Some people liked it a lot; it is, however a linear convention adventure purpose-built as a demonstration vehicle for Dungeon Grappling. So playing it in a living campaign requires some adjustment.

It is available as a Print+PDF bundle for $20, or PDF-only for $10.

Extra Copies of Dragon Heresy ($40)

 A few folks asked if they could buy extra copies of the book. 

Well, sure! These will be made available at the add-on level price of $40, and will be the base-level book: Black and White interior, color cover, hardback. If we crush the $16,000 stretch goal, all books, including these, will be upgraded to color.

To help manage post-campaign add-ons, as well as the distribution of the final product(s) to backers, Gaming Ballistic will be using Backerkit to conduct the post-Kickstarter surveys and fulfillment. Backerkit is a company whose purpose is to help creators manage these details, including add-ons and shipping costs.  

When the campaign ends, you will be invited to fill out a Backerkit survey to confirm shipping details, and choose any add-ons you might like to purchase. If you've pledged more than your reward total, this will show as a credit on your account. 

"Ships to Whole World" is not Free Shipping!

An important point: the project will ship to the entire world. 

Shipping in the USA of physical product will use the USPS media mail or (if things go nuts) a fulfillment company, and shipping will be added to your pledge total during the Backerkit phase.

International shipping will use the cheapest method that ensures reliable delivery. If there are ways to reduce shipping costs to international backers, they will be explored! But I don't control shipping costs, and there's no way around it: International shipping is very expensive, and time-consuming to boot.

If you have purchased multiple physical products, such as a physical copy of Dungeon Grappling plus Dragon Heresy, Gaming Ballistic will do everything possible to group them into a single shipment to reduce costs.

Risks and challenges

The primary risk to backers is the timing of delivery.

The manuscript is 100% complete, and Michael and I have already laid down a preliminary file and art. If we pass the basic funding goal, the additional artwork required to complete the project is minimal.

The remaining work on the PDF is largely around editing and clean-up of the document, to ensure it's as good as it can be.

The add-ons are already completed (The Manor Collection, Dungeon Grappling, Lost Hall of Tyr, and the map collection, for example).

I'm offering high-value physical goods - the shields - for the first time. The biggest risk in many Kickstarters is shipping physical product such as miniatures, and in this case, the high-tier backers are paying for a custom-crafted shield. I'm 100% confident I can make 'em. I can easily produce 12 shields a week every week for the rest of time, and the sample shields pictured that I made for my Viking Martial Arts schools were created in four days. I will be limiting the number of such shields to 70, which would be half-dozen a week for three months. They'd be ready before the print books are done. Shipping in the USA of something that large is an upper limit of $115 . . . the price at USPS, and I can get a lot lower elsewhere, so there's no danger of the KS failing because too many people order shields. I know exactly how I will pack and ship them, too, for safety. All high-tier backers will be working directly and privately with me for tweaks and customization anyway, so you'll get a lot of feedback as the project rolls forward.

I believe that there are very few things that would disrupt the project other than mild schedule slips – though of course things can always go pear-shaped. Gaming Ballistic will provide regular updates as to the project’s progress, and do everything possible to deliver the final PDF on or ahead of schedule.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    Skald

    You are there, telling stories of the battle. Ready to jump in at the right time, when it makes all the difference.

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    Berserker

    As a Berserker, you will receive a PDF with the core combat rules, and Level 1-2 for Human fighter, cleric, and wizard. The PDF will not be laid out or edited - it's an opportunity to try the rules out at little risk!

    Includes:
    • Dragon Heresy Core Combat PDF (Not Edited or Laid out)
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    Thegn

    At the Thegn (respected warrior) level, you will receive a PDF copy of the Dragon Heresy Introductory set, a full-color complete RPG filled with Norse-inspired goodness .

    Includes:
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF
    • Tiered sponsor credit given in the "Kickstarter Backers" section
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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Jarl

    As a Jarl, you are a peer of the realm, and will receive both a print (black and white hardcover) and PDF copy of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.

    Though the menu says "no shipping involved," shipping will be collected in Backerkit after the campaign concludes.

    Includes:
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set (POD Black and White)
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF
    • Tiered sponsor credit given in the "Kickstarter Backers" section
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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Styðja of Torengar

    As a Styðja, a patron/sponsor, you are a trusted advisor and counsellor to the king. You also like rewards you can touch. At this level, you will receive both print and PDF copies of Dragon Heresy . . . and your print copy is in color. You will also receive special credit as an sponsor in the book.

    Shipping is listed as "no shipping involved," but will be collected in Backerkit after the campaign concludes.

    Includes:
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set (POD Black and White)
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set (POD Full-color Hardback)
    • Tiered sponsor credit given in the "Kickstarter Backers" section
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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Styðja Color-print only

    As a Styðja, a patron/sponsor, you are a trusted advisor and counsellor to the king. You also like rewards you can touch. At this level, you will receive both print and PDF copies of Dragon Heresy . . . and your print copy is in color. You will also receive special credit as an sponsor in the book.

    Shipping is listed as "no shipping involved," but will be collected in Backerkit after the campaign concludes.

    Includes:
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set (POD Full-color Hardback)
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF
    • Tiered sponsor credit given in the "Kickstarter Backers" section
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    Pledge US$ 140 or more About US$ 140

    Smásala verndari

    This level is for retail patrons only. If you sell physical goods, this one's for you!

    At this level, you will receive five (5) copies of the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set in black and white hardcover. This includes up to $10 in shipping as part of the pledge; anything more than that will be added in Backerkit when the campaign is over.

    I will also provide PDF copies of the book, or codes that will allow a customer to download the PDF.

    Gaming Ballistic will contact you if you pledge at this level, and we'll work out details. As always, "no shipping" means shipping will be collected in Backerkit if the shipping fees exceed $10 at this tier.

    Includes:
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set (POD Black and White)
    • Tiered sponsor credit given in the "Kickstarter Backers" section
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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Skjald-hirð

    A shield-bearer of the elite guard! Join the huscarls of Torengar, and get a shield to go with it!

    At this pledge level, in addition to a color copy of the game, I will also build for you a custom-constructed viking shield. It will be made of aspen planks, butted together with hide glue, to historical dimensions. Custom-spec the size (half your height recommended) to an upper limit of about 35.5". Hand-carved oak handle, goatskin edging, and linen stitching. Painted with colors and symbology from the game.

    I make these myself and have made a dozen in a week's time before; I am not worried about getting them made. These shields are suitable for historical re-creation martial arts training but not for re-enactment. Contact me for details if you're curious.

    The shield will be very expensive to ship and will only ship inside the USA. Cost is listed as zero, but will be charged in Backerkit.

    Includes:
    • Shield of Torengar
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set (POD Full-color Hardback)
    • Dragon Heresy Introductory Set PDF
    • Tiered sponsor credit given in the "Kickstarter Backers" section
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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 5 backers
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Funding period

- (26 days)