Upon the Dawning of 2019

All hail the mighty Moldvay / Cook / Marsh!

2019. I think everyone is agreed by now that we live in the future. What better time to talk about old-school roleplaying games from the 1980s then!

As is traditional, I thought I'd write a blog post around the turning of the year discussing what's in the works from Necrotic Gnome. I post quite regularly about the different projects that are on the go, but I think it's nice to write up a summary of everything, all in one place. Here goes... (Note that I'm just covering projects that are seriously in development. I have loads more stuff planned that's at the "notes / ideas" stage.)

B/X Essentials

The Complete Revised Edition

This is the big one. The all-in-one hardcover and boxed set of the revised edition of the B/X Essentials rules.

People may recall that when I was initially planning these compiled editions, I wasn't considering substantially revising the content. As is so often the way, though, looking back at finished work with the benefit of hindsight, I started finding more and more ways in which I could improve the clarity and usability of the rules. So this project has mutated into a revised edition proper. (I recently discussed the main changes in detail here.)

Of course, the rules will be completely compatible with the original B/X Essentials booklets (and with B/X), just with enhanced layout and editing.

Current status: The work on revising the text is pretty much done. The plan is to take the new, compiled editions to Kickstarter in the Spring. Around May is looking likely, currently.

Advanced Characters

This book represents the first rules expansion to B/X Essentials -- adding 15 new character classes to the game, all inspired by the AD&D material of yesteryear. (Note: "inspired by" -- these are heavily adapted B/X renditions of the classes, not simple clones or near-clones of the AD&D material.)

Current status: Intensive play testing. It's a lot of work to test 15 new character classes! And play testing is something that I'm taking seriously. The classes that have been tested so far have all benefited greatly from the feedback garnered. My feeling is that this book will be ready in about 4-6 months, which may mean that it's ready in time for the Revised Edition Kickstarter (see above). We shall see.

Druid and Illusionist Spells

The accompanying book to Advanced Characters. Includes 87 new spells for B/X, formatted in the easy-reference style of B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells.

Current status: Same as Advanced Characters. May be ready in time for the Revised Edition Kickstarter (see above). We shall see.

Post-Apocalyptic

This book will be the second rules expansion for B/X Essentials, taking things in a completely different direction -- a near-future, post-apocalyptic wasteland! Inspired by works such as Mad Max and Tank Girl, this book adds 9 new character classes, firearms and scavenged tech, customized vehicles, rules for wasteland survival, and lots more.

Current status: Play testing. We're actively looking for more play testers for this book, so if you love B/X and post-apocalyptic gaming, please get in touch!

Dolmenwood

Campaign Book

The fabled Dolmenwood hardcover is coming along very nicely. The book is divided into two sections:

  1. Lore: Setting overview, background, factions, history, rumours, etc.
  2. Adventures and Hexes: Procedures for hex crawling, hex descriptions, new monsters, treasures, NPCs, etc.

These may end up as sections of a single hardcover or may even be produced as two separate books. That's still to be determined. (And may depend on how the planned Kickstarter goes.)

Current status: Writing in progress.

Lore is really nearly finished. All that remains to be written is some miscellaneous stuff like beer and cider generators, lists of edible plants, that kind of thing. The one significant chunk of content that I've not really touched yet is the lists of rumours. I'm deliberately leaving those until all of the hex descriptions are complete, as the rumours will obviously refer to things in the hexes.

Adventures and Hexes is probably at about the 66% mark now, overall. Of the 184 hexes on the campaign map, only 45 are left to write up. The hex write-ups are a huge amount of work. I'm super happy with the end results, but honestly I'm not sure I'd go into another hex crawl product with such detailed hex write-ups again! (I now fully understand why most hex crawls stick to a very brief per hex write-up!) Fortunately, it's not an effort that I've had to tackle entirely alone: we have hex descriptions written by a number of other talented writers: Luke Gearing, Yves Geens, Greg Gorgonmilk, Kyle Hettinger, Clint Krause, Jonathan Newell, Brian Richmond, Glynn Seal, Andrew Walter. What a team!

All in all, there's still a significant chunk of work to do, but things are looking in extremely good shape for the Kickstarter later this year. (Exact date still to be determined.)

Adventures

I've mentioned several times over the last year that there are a few Dolmenwood adventure modules in development. This is still true!

Two are approaching the finish line:

  1. Winter's Daughter:  (Formerly code-named "Tomb of the Giant-Slayer".) We've been play testing this module pretty intensively at cons this year (some of you may have played it already!), and I feel it's now reached its final form. It's a small forest / dungeon adventure -- suitable for 1st to 3rd level characters -- that revolves around the history of the war against the Cold Prince in Dolmenwood. This module makes a great campaign starter, either simply as an introduction to the weird of Dolmenwood, or as a hook into the wider his/story of the setting.
  2. The Fungus That Came To Blackeswell: Also suitable for characters of around 1st to 3rd level, this module details the apocalyptic downfall of an isolated community in the deeps of Mulchgrove (in eastern Dolmenwood). It's dark and creepy with a touch of whimsy. Just how us Dolmenwood connoisseurs like it.

There are more adventures in a semi-gelatinous state, which may coalesce at some point, but I won't say any more about those right now.

Current status: Writing finished. Layout and illustration to commence soon. (I just received the beautiful cover art for Winter's Daughter, in fact. I'll share that soon.)

Player's Handbook

Going a bit more into the "future" department here, but worth mentioning. The Dolmenwood Campaign Book is only the first of a planned set of hardcover books for the setting. A Player's Handbook and a Monster Manual being the two main books in planning.

I've had notes on a Dolmenwood PHB for years now, but recently started looking into it in a bit more detail, in a spare moment. The basic gist is that the book will contain a bunch of new character classes for the setting (both human and demihuman classes), new equipment, new spells, etc.

Current status: Very early in development. I just released a bit of play test content -- 2 new Dolmenwood character classes -- for anyone who wants to dive in.

Fight On!

15 comments:

  1. Looks like a pretty full and ambitious year ahead!

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    1. Indeed! A lot of things coming to fruition after much work! (Hopefully ;)

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  2. "Adventures and Hexes" has a nice ring to it. Have you considered it as the new name for B/X Essentials?

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    1. I do like the sound of it too, but it sounds a bit too much in the fantasy genre to me. (Ideally the new name for BXE should be able to cover scifi as well.)

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    2. Does it? Can't be 'Adventures' that is too fantasy - so 'Hexes' is the problem? Is suppose that Gnomic Gaming is definitely too fantasy then. I'm interested in the post-apoc possibilities. I'm one of the play-testing group in Norwich and will find out if we're going to try it!

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    3. Or you could just go 'Bexie' - BXE.

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    4. Yeah, I meant that "hexes" sounds like "dark magic", which has quite a fantasy vibe to it. I know one of my previous favourite potential names also included the word "hex"... It's something I go back and forth on.

      Oh that's really cool you're part of the Norwich play test group! I've got super useful feedback from John. Very happy to share the PA book with your group, if one of you feels like running it!

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  3. Replies
    1. Haha. Something for everyone.

      I've had a lot of fun writing up these "comestibles" tables. Currently I have: beer and cider, wine and spirits, pipeweed, tavern fare. (I'm resisting the urge to get too over the top about things and split beer and cider into separate tables!)

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  4. Do the illusionist and druid spell collections include the spells that were submitted?

    And if I had players I would be happy to look at the post apocalyptic material. But I don't. :(

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    1. The Druid and Illusionist spells book contains "basic" spell lists for both classes. 8/8/6/6/6 druid spells, and 12 illusionist spells per level (up to 6th level).

      I still plan to do a Complete Illusionist book, though, which will greatly expand the lists. And I still have all the spells that people (including yourself) submitted for inclusion. I regret that it's taken so bloody long to continue with that project! But I certainly intend to.

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  5. I don't want to just see mine included, I want to see everything. Illusionists are my favorite 1e class by leagues and it would be nice to have as many options/spells as possible.

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    1. Sure sure. The book isn't going to include _everything_. I'll edit and select, of course, to build up a spell list that's coherent and features a sensible number of spells per level (possibly something like 24/24/24/20/20/20/12/12/12).

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  6. Definitely interested in BX post apocalyptic.

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