Saturday, 7 October 2017

Dolmenwood: The Book of Monsters So Far

Since the announcement of the work on the Dolmenwood book of monsters in Wormskin issue seven, I've been meaning to write a quick blog post about it.

First some details about what is planned:

  1. A hardcover book of monsters for the Dolmenwood setting. (The first in the line of Dolmenwood hardcovers.)
  2. Probably a full-size (A4 / Letter) book, for the more flexible layout possibilities that offers.
  3. PDF and softcover editions as well.
  4. 100+ monsters. (I'm setting 100 as the minimum goal. The final total may well end up higher -- I have a long list of possible ideas.)
  5. All monsters will be unique to the Dolmenwood setting. As those familiar with the monsters presented so far in Wormskin know, this may, of course, include Dolmenwood reinterpretations of classic monsters of myth or D&D. Check out the Dolmenwood take on dragons (wyrms) in Wormskin issue six, for example.
  6. Heavily illustrated. The dream here would be to have an illustration for every single monster. The über-dream would be for those all to be full colour illustrations. This basically depends on money, as commissioning 100+ illustrations will be expensive. Doubly so, if they're colour pieces. I'm considering setting this up as a kickstarter, when the time comes.
  7. The book will probably contain encounter charts for the different regions of Dolmenwood. (I'm not 100% decided on this yet.)

And secondly, just for fun, here's the list of monsters that I currently have written up. They number 49, so we are already pretty much half way to the initial goal of 100 monsters. Monsters in bold are new creatures that have not appeared in the pages of Wormskin.

  • Addercorn thrall
  • Antler wraith
  • Barrowbogey
  • Black tentacles
  • Bog salamander
  • Bog zombie
  • Boggin
  • Brainconk
  • Brambling
  • Centaur
  •   Bestial
  •   Sylvan
  • Devil goat
  • Drune
  •   Audrune
  •   Cottager
  •   Drunewife
  • Elf
  •   Lord/Lady
  • Fairy horse
  • Flammbraggyrd (by Andrew Walter)
  • Gelatinous hulk
  • Giant snail
  •   Psionic
  •   Rapacious
  • Gloam
  • Goatman
  •   Crookhorn
  •   Longhorn
  •   Shorthorn
  • Half-goat
  • Incantophage mushroom
  •   Fruiting body
  •   Sporeling
  • Kelpie
  • Mogglewomp
  •   Domestic
  •   Wandering
  • Moss dwarf
  •   Commoner
  •   Fighter
  •   Mould oracle
  • Nightworm
  • Nutcap
  • Ochre slime-hulk
  • Redcap
  • Root thing
  • Scrabey
  • Scrycke (by Yves Geens)
  • Sodder
  • Witch
  •   Witch
  • Witch owl
  • Woodgrue
  • Wyrm
  •   Black bile wyrm
  •   Phlegm wyrm
  •   Blood wyrm
  •   Yellow bile wyrm

More news as development happen!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment: Illustrators and Layout Previews

I finished the layout for B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment over the weekend. That means two things:

1. Illustration is under way
I've commissioned a cover and twenty internal illustrations from the following imaginative folks:


  • Andrew Walter
  • Thomas Novosel
  • Matthew Ray (don't think he has a website, but he's known around the old-school D&D scene)
  • Michael Clarke
  • Tom Kilian
  • Luka Rejec
  • Sean Poppe


  • Twenty pieces and a cover is actually one illustration less than appeared in Core Rules. However, there are a lot more larger pieces in Classes and Equipment, including three two-page spanners.

    It's going to be a visual feast!

    2. I can share some previews
    Just a couple of spreads that don't involve illustrations (that don't exist yet), for the moment:

    The cleric class. Everything on a single 6" x 9" spread:

    The basic equipment list, including armour, weapons, and all associated combat stats:

    More news as progress happens!

    Sunday, 1 October 2017

    B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment -- Table of Contents Preview

    Since the draft text for B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment was completed two weeks ago, I've been working on the layout. One thing took me by surprise: this book is longer and more difficult to lay out that Core Rules was. The cause? The number of large, complicated tables. It's been a lot of fiddly work getting big tables like the class level advancement tables and the sea vessel charts to fit nicely on these small, 6"x9" pages. But: I have done it. The rough layout is complete. All the text of the book is cleanly set up on pages and spreads and I'm now going through tweaking things to look nice.

    It's a fun process. I'll share some preview spreads, once things are looking more finalised. (And especially once illustrations start being put in place!)

    But for now, here's a little preview in the form of the table of contents. Some notes:

    • Each of the class descriptions (including all required information and charts!) fits on one or two pages. Guaranteed no page flipping required!
    • The basic equipment lists -- adventuring gear, armour, and weapons -- are all presented on a single spread (including all related combat stats). Again, no page flipping! Everything you need when going shopping is all in one place.
    • The book comes in at 44 pages long. That's 10 pages longer than Core Rules. (This surprised me. I wasn't expecting it to be that much longer.)


    That's all for now. I'll post more updates as I progress! The planned late Nov / early Dec publication date is looking accurate.

    Sunday, 24 September 2017

    Dolmenwood: Future Directions

    As was announced in the latest issue of Wormskin, the Dolmenwood zine, the intention for the setting has always been a set of hardcover books. In the early days, the amount of work required to achieve this goal was daunting, so we conceived of the idea of publishing the setting piecemeal in issues of a zine. Thus was born Wormskin.

    However, after seven and a half issues of the zine (issue eight is half written), the dream of those hardcovers has not disappeared. The amount of work required to get there is also greatly reduced: Wormskin issues 1 to 7 amount to about 350 A5 pages of material that will eventually be collated!

    So here's what I have planned, roughly:

    1. The book of monsters. Containing 100% new monsters for the Dolmenwood setting, including those that have already been published in Wormskin. My aim here is to have at least 100 monsters in the book and for each to be accompanied by an illustration. (This latter aim will make it expensive to produce!)
    2. The book of hexes. Descriptions and features of every hex on the Dolmenwood campaign map.
    3. The referee's guide. Containing all of the charts and setting background.
    4. The player's guide. New classes and player-facing setting information.
    It's possible that some of these chunks of content may end up being split differently and that some of the books may be combined. This will only become clear as writing progresses.

    Work on the first book (the book of monsters) is already under way. I have over 40 monsters fully written up at present, so am over a third of the way to completion. My aim is to get this first book published in the coming year and then to move onto the book of hexes.

    So, for those readers who have always wished for a "Wormskin omnibus" or such, this is going to happen, but in a much more polished form than simply slamming all of the zine issues together, back to back!

    I'll post updates as progress happens.



    A note on Greg Gorgonmilk
    This post was originally intended just as an announcement of the work on the Dolmenwood hardcovers. However, in the last days, a grand furore has erupted around Greg Gorgonmilk, co-originator of Dolmenwood, along with myself.

    I don't want to prolong the controversy, but can announce that Greg will no longer be involved with Necrotic Gnome Productions or the Dolmenwood campaign setting. I will be the sole Dolmenwood author, going forward.

    I'm happy to discuss the background to this decision in private, but don't want to open a public debate on the topic here on the blog.

    Saturday, 16 September 2017

    B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment -- Draft Text

    One Sunday in August, I announced the second book in the B/X Essentials line: Classes and Equipment. Since then, a huge amount of progress has been made on the book. The draft text has been finished, various people have been helping out proofreading it, and I'm now most of the way through getting the text into its final form.

    The text is freely available here online. (100% Open Game Content for all the tinkerers out there!)

    One of the major aims of this projects has been reorganisation and clarification. I was very pleased with my achievements in these areas in the first book -- Core Rules -- but I must say that I'm even happier with how Classes and Equipment is shaping up. Some examples:

    Look at the dwarf class. Seems simple enough, right? But then look at where the information is collated from. The main class description is on B9. The XP and HD advancement table for levels 1-3 is on B8. Of course, the chart for advancement beyond 3rd level is on X5. Then the description of the class features for levels 3-14 is on X7. Then you have the table for saving throws on X24 and the attack table on X26. And then the dwarf's ability at finding traps is hidden away on B22. And the rule about dwarves and other demi-humans having an improved chance when listening at doors on B21.

    That's a lot of really scattered information, right? My layout aim for the character classes in this book will be to present everything relating to each class together in one place, on a single page or spread.

    Look at the weapons table. A simple thing, but it collates all the information from B20, B27, X9, and X25.

    Look at the section on water vessels. This is my pride and joy with this project. The information is gathered from X9-10 and X63-64, so it's not too spread out in the original. But it's so densely presented in the original Expert book that it's very difficult to quickly extract information about different vessels or situations. What's more, there are a lot of contradictions and ambiguities. All of this has been cleared up. (Which was a lot of work!) For example, how much does a troop transport cost? (X9 and X63 give conflicting values.) What happens to a sailing boat in high winds? (There's an obscure mention that it's treated the same as a galley and then a dense description of running ahead of a gale on X63 and a small rule about shipping water on X64.) How many catapults can be fitted on a large sailing ship? (X10 and X63 contradict each other.)

    As is doubtless clear, I love B/X, but honestly, the information about sea vessels in the Expert book is really awfully presented and appears to have not been proofread.

    So, just a few examples, but I hope that makes clear how the presentation of the original rules can be improved upon! (I know some people doubt this.)

    Wednesday, 13 September 2017

    B/X Essentials: Core Rules -- Print Editions Available Now!

    The first book in the B/X Essentials line is now available to buy as a print / PDF combo at RPGNow (and pals)!

    http://www.rpgnow.com/product/220726/B-X-Essentials-Core-Rules

    There are two editions:

    1. Premium edition. Staple bound (lays flat on the table!), 6" x 9", premium colour.
    2. Standard edition. Perfect bound, 6" x 9", standard colour.
    The premium edition is (obviously) the fancier of the two. The binding means it's able to lay flat on the table, which is great for use during play. The premium printing also means that the text and illustrations are just that bit crisper. That said, the perfect bound edition looks great too and is a bit cheaper.

    Here they are side by side (difficult to tell the difference at this stage):
    (My floor and a couple of dice for scale.)
    And here are a few interior shots of the premium / staple bound edition.

    All the XP rules on the left-hand page.

    All the encounter rules on the right-hand page here.

    Rules for chases in dungeons, wilderness, and at sea, all on one spread.

    All the basic combat rules on one spread.

    People who have already bought the PDF edition: I've sent out a coupon so you can get a print copy minus the price of the PDF.

    Sunday, 3 September 2017

    B/X Essentials: Core Rules Now Available in PDF!


    Illustration (C) Tom Kilian

    The first book in the B/X Essentials line, Core Rules, is out!

    The B/X Essentials line is a restatement of the classic Basic/Expert fantasy adventure gaming rule set, distilled down to its purest essence and given a fresh, new presentation:

    • Basic and Expert rules seamlessly combined.
    • Streamlined presentation optimised for ease of reference during play.
    • Meticulously researched; a guaranteed 100% accurate rendition of the classic rules of yesteryear.
    • Carefully clarified, ironing out ambiguities in the original rules.

    This first book lays out the core rules of the game, including: encounters, combat, dungeon and wilderness exploration, seafaring, spell casting, and magical research.

    It's lavishly illustrated with the powers of Michael Clarke, Tom Kilian, Thomas Novosel, Matthew Ray, Luka Rejec, and Andrew Walter. (The image above is a sample illustration from the book, by Tom Kilian.)

    Right now, only the PDF edition is available, but fear not: print editions are coming soon! People who purchase the PDF edition now will be sent a voucher to upgrade to the print edition, when it becomes available.

    Click here to buy B/X Essentials: Core Rules at RPGNow.

    Additionally, a plain text edition of the book is available online as a google doc and here as PDF / RTF files. The plain text edition is provided as an aid to others who wish to create their own house rules documents or retro-clones (please read the Open Game License, at the end of the document, carefully!).