Dolmenwood Campaign Book Now to be Accompanied by Dolmenwood Player's Book

Gavin Norman dolmenwood

Anyone who's been following the development of the Dolmenwood setting over the last few years has doubtless heard of the plans for the upcoming Dolmenwood Campaign Book. Today I have a major announcement on that topic...

There Will Now be Two Books, Published as a Set!

As I wrote in the last post about the Dolmenwood Campaign Book, there have always been plans for a Dolmenwood Player's Book to accompany it. My original plan was to publish one book at a time (first the Campaign Book, then the Player's Book), but I've decided it makes more sense to publish them together.

The main reason for this is that the two books really go hand in hand. It'd be difficult to get a really good play experience of Dolmenwood without both. For example, while it would be possible to play games in Dolmenwood without the player-facing content, lacking things like the weird and wonderful new character classes just wouldn't do the setting justice.

Publishing the two books at the same time makes for a much more compelling — and useful! — campaign setting.

So What's in Each Book?

The Dolmenwood Player's Book is the essential guide for players participating in campaigns set in Dolmenwood. It contains the following:

  • A player's introduction to the setting, including a gazetteer and brief, digestible looks at the history, sentient races, and factions.
  • Additional material for character creation, including details on the languages spoke in the setting and lists of example names for the various races which inhabit Dolmenwood.
  • New character classes, including a modified cleric class tailored to the setting, two new human classes (hunter and knight), and four new demihuman race-classes (fairy elf, grimalkin, moss dwarf, and woodgrue).
  • The standard human character classes (fighter, magic-user, thief) are also included for convenience.
  • A chunky section with expanded lists of equipment, armour, and animals, including articles on delightful topics such as the hounds of Dolmenwood, 20 types of pipeweed, 27 popular alcoholic beverages, common herbs and mushrooms, etc.
  • New magic systems: elf runes, fairy glamours, and moss dwarf knacks.
  • Expanded rules for wilderness hex-crawling, including rules for finding hidden features in hexes and for camping in the wilds.
  • Appendices detailing the Dolmenwood calendar and the legends of the 34 major saints.

The Dolmenwood Campaign Book is the bible for referees who want to run games in the setting. It contains the following content:

  • In-depth discussions of the secrets of the setting: the different regions of the forest, the history of human (and fairy) habitation of the place, the magic of the various ley lines and standing stones, etc.
  • Complete run-downs on the seven factions that vie for control over Dolmenwood.
  • Extensive rumour tables to get PCs going.
  • Full write-ups for the 180 hexes on the campaign map. (The hex write-ups are the real meat of the book.)
  • An extensive bestiary of weird new monsters (all statted for Old-School Essentials, naturally).

    Dolmenwood Player's Book Table of Contents

    Here's the chapter structure as it stands:

      How Big are these Books?

      Initial writing and layout work on the Dolmenwood Player's Book is nearing completion and it clocks in at just over 100 pages. The Dolmenwood Campaign Book is further from completion, but it's looking like it'll come in at 200-300 pages.

      What Will these Books Look Like?

      Physically, they're going to be big, chunky tomes printed at the same deluxe quality as the Old-School Essentials books. They'll be a full-size (A4) books. Art-wise, I'm working with a small group of artists to bring the fairy-tale magic of the setting to life. Finnish artist Pauliina Hannuniemi is doing a series of large-scale paintings for the chapter heading pages. (See the example image above.)

      Why A4?

      You may be wondering why the Dolmenwood books are being produced at A4 size, rather than the much smaller A5 size of the Old-School Essentials books. The primary reason is as follows:

      1. I'm using the same "control panel" layout approach, where everything relating to a particular topic fits on two side-by-side pages.
      2. It was only possible to use this approach with A5 pages in Old-School Essentials due to the extremely terse writing style.
      3. That level of terseness just isn't suitable for Dolmenwood, so a larger page size is required.

      When Will they be Available?

      We're planning to bring both books to Kickstarter as a set in 2020. The exact date isn't yet known — it's really just "when everything's ready to launch".

      Looking for Play Testers!

      Update 29th February 2020: Play testing has begun and we are no longer looking for more play testers!

      I'm expecting to have the Dolmenwood Player's Book in a finished state (pending illustrations and final editing / layout tweaks) in the next week or so. The stage is thus set for a round of play testing! (Just of the Player's Book at this stage. The material for the Campaign Book isn't currently in a state where it's ready to share.)

      What I'm looking for:

      • A small number of play testers who have the time to really put the new material through its paces.
      • People who are already running Dolmenwood campaigns using the old material from Wormskin would be prime candidates.
      • People who have the time to start a new campaign set in Dolmenwood, using the player's material from the Dolmenwood Player's Book and the campaign setting material from Wormskin would also be ideal.
      • Play testers should be running games using B/X or Old-School Essentials.
      • Play testers should be able to give detailed written feedback on their experiences using the new material. (I'll consider creating a Discord channel or Facebook group for play testers to chat and share feedback.)

      If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please email summon@necroticgnome.com with the subject "Dolmenwood Player's Book Play Test". It'd be helpful if you could also write a bit about how you feel you fulfill the requirements above.

      I'm very excited to share the new book with some of you soon!


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      • Matthias on

        Looking forward to this one. I love the theme of Fearie and the two adventures in this land did not disappoint.

      • FASAfan on

        Late to the party, but I can’t wait for this.

        I’ll just throw it out there: I’m all for adult themes and content if it’s part of the story, character elements, etc. My advice is to not shy away from it. Slap a content warning on it.

      • Gavin Norman on

        >As for sexual material, my personal opinion is that it could be included if the non-consensual elements were removed. A major NPC who keeps his wives charmed or imprisoned is, frankly, a rapist. I think that’s something not many groups would feel comfortable with. Same, for example, with psychedelic compounds that cause orgasms.

        Thanks for clarifying. I wasn’t sure whether you were suggesting a content warning or actual removal of certain elements. I’ll consider this, but my initial feeling is that a content warning covers it. People who are uncomfortable with written depictions of certain types of horrors will then be forewarned and can make an informed decision about whether this is the setting for them. (Of course, such elements don’t play a major role in the setting, so they could also easily be skipped over during play.)

      • ngthrowaway on

        Thank you for getting back to me. I know this can be a difficult issue to address.

        A content warning would be a good start — obviously psychedelia and violence play a big role in the setting.

        As for sexual material, my personal opinion is that it could be included if the non-consensual elements were removed. A major NPC who keeps his wives charmed or imprisoned is, frankly, a rapist. I think that’s something not many groups would feel comfortable with. Same, for example, with psychedelic compounds that cause orgasms.

        Since there was a controversy surrounding this type of content a few weeks ago, it’s worth keeping in mind.

        Looking forward to the books!

      • Gavin Norman on

        >Have you given any thought to how you are going to handle sexual content in these books? Wormskin had some content that was quite iffy (Lord Malbleat springs to mind).

        Generally speaking, Dolmenwood is definitely an adult setting, with drugs, horror, and sexual elements. As such, it will be marketed with a content warning.

        Did you have anything specific in mind?



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