Dolmenwood Campaign Book: Planning Update

As work on the final digital rewards for the Old-School Essentials Kickstarter is entering the end stages, my thoughts are slowly returning to "the next big thing". In this case, the next big thing is the long anticipated Dolmenwood Campaign Book!

This Thing is Huge

The first thing I noticed, upon looking at where I stand with the Campaign Book, is just how big a project this is. The Campaign Book alone is looking like it'll come in at around 200-300 pages (and these are full size pages, not the mini A5 pages of Old-School Essentials!). I also had notes detailing plans to publish anywhere from 3-8 new adventures as part of the Dolmenwood Kickstarter. And that's not to mention the plan to offer a B/X and a 5e version of everything!

It's a really huge project.

My first Kickstarter, Old-School Essentials, was also huge, and stretched the limits of my project management capabilities. So for the Dolmenwood Kickstarter I've decided to take a step back and strip out some of the less essential parts of the plan. I want to get this book published, and I want to get it published within a feasible time frame.

B/X Only at First

The biggest decision I've made, with regard to simplifying the project a little, is to delay the 5e version of the book (and the 5e versions of the new adventures). The conversion from B/X to 5e alone could easily be 6 months' work. My feeling now is that it'd be smoother to finalise everything with the B/X version first, get that published, then move on to the 5e version.

This means that the Campaign Book Kickstarter will just be for the B/X version. I'll either run a separate Kickstarter later on for the 5e version or may simply publish it without crowdfunding.

Kickstarter Plans

So my revamped plan is as follows (all open to change still, of course!):
  • Kickstarter launch: Around Spring 2020. (Though the real launch date is, of course, "when it's ready".)
  • Main reward: The Dolmenwood Campaign Book (B/X version). Current projections put it at around 200-300 pages A4. Full colour art (more about this below). Creamy paper. High quality sewn-binding hardcover.
  • Extras: Certain pledge levels will also include a package of print extras (current working title: "the Dolmenwood Folio"). Initially this will consist of three adventures (Winter's Daughter, The Fungus that Came to Blackeswell, plus a secret, as yet unannounced adventure). More stuff will be added to the package as stretch goals are unlocked.
  • Stretch goals: Physical upgrades to the book (e.g. ribbon markers, printed endpapers, etc.). Free digital rewards (e.g. a player's intro to Dolmenwood, pre-gen characters for Dolmenwood, etc.). Additional print rewards for the Folio (see above -- e.g. poster maps, print versions of digital rewards, etc.).
  • Old-School Essentials tie-in: I'm thinking of offering pledge levels that include a special edition of the Old-School Essentials Rules Tome. This would be the same content as the standard Rules Tome, but would come with a special, limited edition cover. (Probably black leatherette.)
  • Pledge manager: I plan to use BackerKit to run an add-on store following the Kickstarter. You'll be able to add on extra copies of all the books in the Kickstarter, plus anything from the Old-School Essentials product line

Next Steps

Now that I have a project plan that feels more feasible to me, the next step is simply to finish writing this book! I think the writing is probably about 75% complete, as things stand. It'll still take quite a few months to finish everything up. (And that's once I've finished everything for Old-School Essentials, of course!)

Art Commissions

In the meantime, however, I've already started commissioning art for the book! I'm in discussion with various artists, but I can reveal that the following people are involved at this stage:
  • Pauliina Hannuniemi: Pauliina is working on a series of full-page illustrations which will act as chapter headings in the book. A couple of these pieces are already complete. See below.
  • Mish Scott: Mish will be working on spot illustrations of various scenes and characters. Expect moss dwarves, fungi, and talking animals galore!
  • Arlin Ortiz: Arlin will be working on a series of maps of the settlements in Dolmenwood. The plan is for each town or village to have a map showing the general feeling of the place, the layout, and the location of the most important buildings.
  • Chris Hüth: Chris is working on some decorative, black & white elements such as borders and little quirky icons to break up the layout.
I'm super excited to have them all involved!

Sample Artwork

Here's a layout mockup featuring one of Pauliina's chapter heading illustrations. The text and layout is just rough / placeholder, but you can get the idea of what I'm going for with these.

The image depicts the unseason of Colligwyld, where the forest is overrun by giant, spongy fungus which melt into a rainbow-coloured sludge after a few weeks.

Here's another of Pauliina's chapter heading illustrations, this time depicting a pivotal moment in the history of Dolmenwood, where the forest's wicked fairy ruler, the Cold Prince, was exiled.

More News When it Happens!


  1. This is excellent news and something that I've been looking forward to hearing!

  2. The art direction in this book looks amazing! Dolemenwood might be the prettiest OSR book yet. The Old-School Essentials Kickstarter has been such a pleasure, I'm sure to back this one too.

    For an OSE tie-in, would you consider doing a limited edition run of the Advanced Fantasy books? I'm sure there's a lot of people who backed OSE that will also support this and would enjoy a replacement for the misprinted volume. Just a thought!

    1. I'll consider it, but probably not. They're not related to Dolmenwood (unlike the Rules Tome, which provides the basic rules for running the game). Reprints of additional books will most likely fall into the category of "additional moving parts that make the whole thing more complex" (which I'm trying to minimise, you know).

  3. Hell yeah, I'm excited to see this come to life.

  4. Looking forward to this! Although so far I've loved how minimalist OSE and your other publications have been. For such a dense book, do you have any idea how 'pick-and-choose' it will be?

    1. Could you say more about what you're thinking of with "pick and choose" with regards to a campaign setting?

    2. I've loved mining the Wormskin zines for ideas, but I don't care about a fantasy calendar for example. I really appreciate the Welcome to Dolmenwood PDF's approach of describing Dolmenwood as a region in a larger world, without many assumptions. It hearkens back to early modules and Gazetteers that painted everything in broad strokes instead of getting into the minutiae of who lives in town X or what happened in Year YYYY.

      Basically I would prefer something akin to the Forgotten Realms grey box rather than the nightmare of intertwined lore that setting turned into. If you have a 200-300 page tome, how interconnected and essential will the details be?

    3. I'm not familiar with any of the various versions of Forgotten Realms over the years, so I can't speak to that comparison.

      The Dolmenwood Campaign Book is primarily a massive hex crawl. The bulk of the book is the hex descriptions. There's also a large section on the setting background and large treasure and monster chapters.

      The book still describes Dolmenwood alone, without any reference to the world beyond the wood.

  5. I don't want to add to the workload too much of course, buuuuut perhaps an offset printing of the Wormskin zines, similar to that of Hole in the Oak, could be an enticing addon to the Kickstarter? I would love a quality printing of the zines, especially since some content will still be only available there.

    1. It's something I am considering, but I'm not totally sure on yet. The majority of the material in Wormskin is already planned for deluxe reprints, so even the stuff that doesn't make it into the Campaign Book will appear somewhere else. For example, the character classes will appear (in revised / edited form) in the planned Player's Book, the adventures may be revised and published individually, and so on.

    2. You know what is best, but even if most of the material would be reprinted in different forms in the future, offset printed booklets of Wormskin would be a very cool "just for this kickstarter" type of thing. I think a LOT of us would eat that up.

    3. Yeah, a special limited edition would be the only reason to do it. I'd probably do it as an omnibus -- 8 issues in one book -- rather than as individual books.

    4. An omnibus would be beyond neat! But if that turns out to be too much work in an already busy kickstarter, I'm just saying, nicely printed zines...

    5. I second the Omnibus idea. Heartily!

    6. Thinking about it some more, honestly I don't think it'll happen. It'd just add an extra level of complexity to the project (which is exactly what I'm trying to avoid!) and printing some of the same material in two different formats seems kind of weird.

  6. I'm so eager for this. I missed out on the OSE Kickstarter, so love the idea of having that as an add-on. I also like the idea of the Wormskin zine omnibus.

  7. I'm going to be contrarian and say I much prefer the slightly homemade aesthetic of the Wormskin zines. They're probably my favourite RPG product of recent years, and I certainly would be happy if you continued in that format. I'm definitely on-board for a big Dolmenwood book though, no matter how slick and beautiful.

    1. Wormskin may continue after the Campaign Book is published. The point is, though, that the zine format is really awkward for actually running games in Dolmenwood (and I say this as the creator of the zine who has used it for running games over the last years -- it's really awkward!).

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  8. Can't wait to back this and get hold of it Gavin (particularly after getting the excellent OSE), I agree with your earlier comment, certainly--for me at least--the zine format is not conducive to easily running a game in the setting since you have to juggle all the stuff. I'm hoping that Dolmenwood will be a bit like the Midderlands from Glynn Seal where we'll have a couple of big books with the setting stuff in it and then some zines with optional/extra stuff :)