Dolmenwood Progress Update — May 2023

Dolmenwood Progress Update — May 2023

(Header art by Rachel Quinlan.)

Following the announcement that Dolmenwood is now going to be published as a standalone game, there has been a great flurry of moss-clad activity at the Necrotic Gnome HQ. As the fungal spores settle, I felt it was high time for a progress update!

Short version: Work is progressing very well, and we're on schedule to launch the Dolmenwood Kickstarter this summer as planned (probably around July / August). There will be music, minis, and maps!

Dolmenwood Player's Book

As the book that contains the core rules of the game, most of the recent work has been on the Player's Book. I'm happy to report that this work is almost complete and that the book comes in at 192 pages.

The overall process has been one of integrating the Old-School Essentials rules into the Dolmenwood Player's Book, infusing them with the flavour of the setting, and streamlining, clarifying, and expanding as appropriate. I'm placing a strong focus on adding introductory and explanatory material, directly melding in the kind of old-school play advice that new players usually have to dig up in forums or blog posts. The Dolmenwood Player's Book forms not only a complete guide to playing in Dolmenwood games, but also to the old-school style of gaming in general.

The contents of the Dolmenwood Player's Book are as follows:

  • Welcome to Dolmenwood: An introduction to the setting, including a player's gazetteer, a player's overview of Dolmenwood, and some rumours and folklore.
  • Starting Play: The basics of RPG play and terminology, plus the rules for character creation and advancement.
  • Kindreds: The six playable kindreds (breggle, elf, grimalkin, human, mossling, woodgrue), each presented with background info, mechanical abilities, tables of names and backgrounds, a table of 50 random trinkets, and a set of eight tables of quirky characteristics.
  • Classes: The nine playable classes (cleric, enchanter, fighter, friar, hunter, knight, magician, minstrel, thief).
  • Magic: The rules for arcane, fairy, and holy magic, along with complete spell lists. The arcane and holy spell lists are largely based on the Old-School Essentials spells, with a lot of tweaks and additional flavour to tie them in with Dolmenwood. For example, each holy spell is connected with a specific saint and is accompanied by the myth of that saint's most renowned miracle.
  • Equipment, Services, and Animals: Detailed lists of adventuring gear, weapons, and armour. Dolmenwood-specific horses, vehicles, and dogs. Richly evocative lists of food, beverages, pipeleaf, herbs, and fungi. Details on hiring the services of specialists and retainers.
  • Adventuring: The core rules of the game, including rules for hazards and challenges, travel and camping in the wilds, dungeon exploration, settlements and downtime, and encounters and combat.
  • Appendices: Extra details on the Dolmenwood calendar, moon signs, the noble houses, and the major saints. Optional Kindred-Classes for players who prefer to play archetypal non-humans (e.g. a grimalkin, rather than a grimalkin thief or a grimalkin minstrel).

Here's a preview of the Table of Contents.

Next Steps

Now that work on the Player's Book is almost complete, I'll be moving on to the Campaign Book and the Monster Book. The main tasks to do there are:

  • Referee advice: Add a section on referee advice and adventure design to the Campaign Book, with special focus on creating Dolmenwood dungeons. (This section will probably include an example starter dungeon that referees can place anywhere in the setting.)
  • Treasures: Add a complete list of treasures and magic items to the Campaign Book. This will include a rich selection of wondrous items tailored to the weird fairy-tale flavour of Dolmenwood, including lists of gems and art objects, enchanted armour and weapons, magic crystals, magic rings, potions and wands, scrolls and books, and magical fungi and herbs.
  • New monsters: Expand the Monster Book to present a fully fleshed out roster of creatures that can be encountered in Dolmenwood, including setting-specific adaptations of a number of classic Old-School Essentials monsters.
  • Monster stats: Adapt previously written monsters to the streamlined Dolmenwood stat block.

Speaking of the revised Dolmenwood stat block, here's an example monster — the dreaded boggin.

Dolmenwood Kickstarter Goodies

We're still planning exactly what will be included in the Kickstarter, the pricing of the different pledge tiers, and so forth, but a couple of titbits to tide you over until more details are announced:

  • Music: A fantastic album of Dolmenwood-themed music has been produced. This will be available to Kickstarter backers as a digital download or as a fancy 12" vinyl.
  • Minis: We're producing a set of Dolmenwood miniatures! The initial set that will be available with the Kickstarter will focus on playable characters. All going well, we plan to produce further sets in the future, including lots of the weird and wonderful Dolmenwood monsters.
  • Maps: We're planning to offer cloth and poster maps of Dolmenwood.

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Looking forward to this, as I really enjoyed Dolmenwood when I first encountered it in Wormskin magazine. I just wish the books were in A5 size.

Eduardo Alvarez


Honestly, this looks it is going to be a real gem. I understand the reasons for shifting from OSE and I imagine there was some angsty decisions made in the background, behind this shift. But it’s even more appealing to me now the rules (still close to the simplicity of OSE) have been imbued by the setting itself. A much finer product and certainly not “just another RPG”. And on Foundry too!

Gruber McPhisto

Very exciting stuff. I for one think this is a great direction to take this. What’s better than a well thought out captivating setting? a well thought out captivating system built with that setting in mind. I cannot wait for the kickstarter. I’ve never fallen in love with a setting more so than Dolmenwood. Winters Daughter was love at first sight. Very very very cool stuff you guys are working with I seriously cannot wait for the kickstarter to launch.

Jonas h Haran

Like some others, I was looking forward to a setting rather than ‘yet another RPG’… we’re getting saturated with RPGs.


OSE was going to be the last RPG I bought, and I had planned to use the Dolmenwood setting. Now, if I back this I’m buying a new RPG and admitting that my OSE rule purchases were a waste of money. So I’m reluctantly going to go elsewhere for my setting or just design my own.

Harun Musho'd

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