Some more Castle of the Mad Archmage News

We’ve made a lot of progress on Castle of the Mad Archmage™, and I wanted to give everyone a quick update. We’re still right on track for a February release (maybe earlier). There are only five pieces of art still outstanding, and the manuscript should be coming back from the editor any time now. The map book is done and MAN does it help having the maps in their own booklet. I ran a session of CotMA yesterday (down in the crypts and lesser caverns) and it made a HUGE difference. I think that’s going to be one of the best features of the published version.

Although the first publication will be made using the Adventures Dark and Deep™ rules (which means, of course, that it will be usable with just about any 1E-compatible OSR rules set), the keen-eyed among you might have noticed that call for Pathfinder conversion experts that was posted not too long ago. That is because Castle of the Mad Archmage™ will also be published in a Pathfinder version later this year.

I don’t have any details in when it’ll be available – I’m still sifting through the responses to find just the right person who can do it justice – but it will happen one way or the other.

Adventures Dark and Deep Designer’s Notes: Ability Scores


Now that the core rules for Adventures Dark and Deep™ are complete and available, I thought it might be of interest to go through some of the decisions that influenced the design of the game, starting with the rules around the character ability scores.

These, of course, are the core of any D&D-esque RPG, and in keeping with the overall design philosophy of starting with the 1st Edition rules (including Unearthed Arcana) as a jumping-off point, we start with the basic stats: strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, and charisma.

There are the several different methods of rolling character scores, similar to what we saw in the 1st edition DMG, and also a section on how to do ability checks. That’s a cousin of some of the features of Gygax’s mid-1980’s RPG Dangerous Journeys, which informed the direction that I took with ADD in several instances.

Comeliness, which was a seventh attribute that was introduced by Gygax in the pages of Dragon magazine and subsequently in Unearthed Arcana, was included in early drafts of the ADD rules, but was removed as the playtest wore on. This was one of the few times I allowed my own feelings on a rule to override what I thought Gygax would probably have done. The rules for comeliness, as written in UA, were game-breaking in their effect (essentially giving an at-will charm power to characters with high enough comeliness scores), and without those rules, there was no reason to break out comeliness from charisma – it would turn into the dump stat I wanted to avoid (a lot of games don’t use encounter reaction rolls, either at all or to their full effect).

I know there are a lot of people who do use comeliness despite what I see as its shortcomings, and I fully understand why they do; disagreement should not be construed as disparagement. A new, hopefully more playable, version of comeliness, is in the works (it will be added as an optional appendix in future printings of the Players Manual once it’s done and tested).

The stats for attributes go from 3 to 25, but 18 is the normal maximum for most PC races. This is a logical outgrowth of one of the chief goals of the project – to put all of the relevant information on a subject in the same place, without having to flip through ten books to find it all. That is why the information on supernaturally high ability scores was moved from the old Deities and Demigods to the appropriate section of the Players Manual. In keeping with the “1st edition as the foundation” principle, fighters are able to have exceptional strength.

And speaking of dump stats, I came up with what I thought was a pretty neat way to avoid using charisma as a place to dump one’s low roll. When selling treasure, the amount that one can get for various types of items is impacted by charisma. So, someone with a higher charisma will get a better price when selling recovered gems, or pieces of art, or jewelry, than someone with a lower score.

Comeliness aside, the section on ability scores was pretty much limited to combining and synthesizing the rules surrounding ability scores that were scattered through several books in the original 1st edition.

Books Ahoy!

All right!

The stars have aligned, the omens are favorable, and the proofs look good. So today the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary will start going out to the Kickstarter backers! (FIVE MONTHS ahead of the originally planned date, I might add!)

Copies of the books are on their way to the backers (pdf codes were sent out, and orders for the hard copies are being entered even now).

The book is also available for sale for folks who didn’t get in on the Kickstarter. Spread the word, let your friends know, and thanks again for helping make this book look great. We honestly couldn’t have done it without you.

Softcover Bestiary Proof!

The softcover proof for the Adventures Dark and Deep arrived today. Thusfar I don’t see any real showstoppers, but I haven’t gone through it in detail. The cover is a little darker than I was expecting, but I want to see how it looks on the hardcover before I start fiddling with settings. That said, this thing is a monster of a book (450 pages) and it is a joy to actually feel its heft in my hands. The art looks gorgeous, and in every way it exceeds my own expectations. The hardcover should come in a week or so – there was an issue with the cover file that caused it to be delayed.

Adventures Dark and Deep at GenCon!

If you’re at GenCon this week, be sure to stop by the OSR Booth (#2033). There you’ll be able to pick up all of the Adventures Dark and Deep books currently available:

  • Players Manual
  • Game Masters Toolkit
  • A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (for folks who are already playing another game, and want to bring in the ADD material as a supplement to add to your game)

They’ll have both the hardcover and softcover versions available, and if you send a picture of you holding the book to admin@brwgames.com, or a receipt showing you bought it, you’ll get a free pdf version. Enjoy!

Bestiary art milestone

I’ve been been wanting to do an update on the Bestiary for the last few days, but have been holding off as I’ve been watching the numbers on the artwork tick up and up towards one of those “significant numbers”. And lo! and behold it has happened.

We have now gotten 75% of the artwork completed. Less than a hundred pieces to go.

Stop and think about that. Since June 9, when the first batches of art were sent out to the artists, we’ve gotten nearly 300 finished, gorgeous, pieces of art in, in just nine weeks. That is, frankly, a lot quicker than I expected (and it’s a good kind of surprise!).

If we keep up this breakneck pace (and who knows, with summer vacations and the like, if we’ll be able to), all of the art should be in hand around the beginning of September. I’ve already gotten about half of the edits from our illustrious editor, and should hopefully have the rest in a couple of weeks. Then it’s just a matter of final tweaks to the book itself, doing the final layout adjustments, and off we go to the printer for proofs.

I am… very unofficially and informally… estimating we should have books in hand by Thanksgiving if all goes well. Woo-hoo! Beats the heck out of next March.

And, as always, let me thank the Kickstarter backers for your incredible support of this project. Without you guys, it simply would not have been possible. You guys are awesome.

In the meantime, here are a few more pieces from our awesome group of artists. Enjoy!

Behir…

Allosaurus…

 And, finally, a demon who needs no introduction…

Character Sheets Now Available

As of this morning, a two-page pdf of the official Adventures Dark and Deep character sheet became available on our webstore. There are places to record not just the basic stats of your character, but also skills, combat information, magic items, and much more. It’s a free download, of course. Enjoy!