Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slumbering Ursine Dunes Is A-Comin'

I've jibber jabbered here and there about the Slumbering Ursine Dunes, the Mythical Wilderness sub-region of the campaign that I have been slowly, slowly, slowly turning into a mini-sandbox for public consumption.

Longtime readers will have probably noticed that I have also spent a good chunk of time here on the blog and on Google Plus raising criticisms of the excesses of the rpg crowd-funding way and the commercialization of our hobby. As I gear up for horror of horrors a modest Kickstarter in early September I also gear up for not being a complete ass of a hypocrite.

So here's what you can expect as counter-measures against douchery in the Kickstarter:
1. That when it goes live the manuscript will be in a “pre-print” done state. It is currently in its fifth round of aggressive editing and the two tireless editors, Robert Parker and Anthony Picaro, have done the Lord's work in whipping my lazy, indulgent 50-plus digest-sized pages of text into some coherence. There will be no getting stuck in the hard-to-maintain cycle of motivating, writing, playtesting--and avoiding your collective wrath as a result.

2. A bottom $1 or 2 “test drive” tier where you can get the artless PDF immediately (all tiers will get this but I wanted to give folks something my cheap and picky self would want.)

3. A lot of thought has gone into the project not getting bogged down in the usual morass of crowdsourcing delays (and excuses). Higher backer-tiers and stretch goals have been kept modest with an eye on being able to be put together at a reasonably quick pace. Importantly the print publication will be done through RPG Now/RPG Drive-Thru's print-on-demand with an at-cost coupon being sent to backers thus reducing the major delaying woes of printing and fulfillment. (It also means that UK backers can get domestic shipping rates.)

4. That a sizable chunk of the budget is going to pay first the talented David Lewis Johnson (who has also played in the campaign) for gorgeous art and cartography. Another quarter-percentage chunk is going to pay for the editing and layout (yay Mike Davison). While KS's skimpy restrictions don't allow you to directly fund-raise most if not all of what I take all the end of that pie will be going to pay for the filing and legal costs of reviving Hydra, my hippy-ideal game design cooperative, as a worker-owned company (more about that later in the week).
The Golden Barge cover (adventurers likely to disappear)
But enough about the hand-wringing, here are the fun things you can expect from the Dune:
A pointcrawl of the otherwordly Dunes region. Beyond the big ticket adventure sites you will find along the way include a Polevik-haunted rye field, a Zardoz head-living hermit (that scraggly fellar above), bearling pilgrimage site and other assorted madness. 

Two separate “dungeon” sites, the biomechanical, lost-in-time Golden Barge and the warring demi-gods Glittering Tower, with enough detail and portability to be slotted into an existing campaign (as can many of the adventure nodes).

A subsystem for modeling the mythic weirdness of the Dunes in the Chaos Index, a dynamic events systems. Actions of the players in the sandbox will escalate or deescalate the levels of events from blood-rain thunderstorms to an aerial invasion of magictech bubble cars.

Four competing factions operating inside the Dunes, plus guidelines for their mutual interactions.

Unique, “unlockable” player classes, spells and magic items compatible with Labyrinth Lord or really any other oldish D&D game.

15 new and unique monsters, many drawn from Slavic mythology (with a twist or three, naturally).

Some flipping great cover and interior art by David. Check out some of the early sketches.  


  1. This looks great: One Kickstarter I will be happy to support.

  2. this was so fun to play at NTRPG

  3. I have no problem with kickstarters. I do take issue with how many, many people see it as the answer to their lifelong dream of being An Pro Game Designer Guy!!!!1!1!11

    You are not That Guy.

    I probably won't buy yours either but it's tempting.

    1. One nice thing about having had a career as a journalist is being cured of the vanity of seeing your by-line (well mostly). Honestly I am doing it for the enjoyment of doing it

  4. To clarify: you're not a posing dreamer. You already are pretty awesome. Also, I've heard of you before you made up a kickstarter thingy

  5. Looking forward to checking it out and tossin' a few coppers your way..

  6. Congrats, Chris! Looking forward to seeing the final product.

  7. I can't see this not being worth your time and ours. If you weren't planning to pull out all the stops structurally and visually, it would still be a little piece of magic, especially for all the work and play that's gone into it and constantly having it there as a backdrop and a source of inspiration for so many years, but if you are, even better. I hope this is the first of many elements and we get to see much more of the world. Good news about Hydra too - carpe diem whatever the world and its calendar.