Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.'s Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter
THE MARMOREAL TOMB CAMPAIGN STARTER IS FUNDED! THANK YOU ALL!
FOR A BREAKDOWN OF ALL PLEDGE LEVELS AND ASSOCIATED REWARDS, scroll down about 2/3rds of the way, on this very page. Section "How You Can Help", Table entitled "Rewards".
Now that our main funding goal has been met, the Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter will keep getting bigger and better. You will get more and more bang for your buck the more pledges we gather, and more add-ons will be unlocked.
Can we make it that far, to the Cyberpunk Customization Pack? You decide!
GP Adventures LLC is game company created by partners Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. and Benoist Poiré.
ERNEST GARY GYGAX JR.: First son of E. Gary Gygax of Dungeons & Dragons fame, Ernie the Barbarian has been a gamer nearly as long as he lived. He literally cut his first tooth on an Avalon Hill Panzer division, and went on from there to play many games, from board games to miniatures war games to, ultimately, role-playing games with his father and their many friends. One of the very first players, along with Robert J. Kuntz and his sister Elise, of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Ernest is better known as the player behind the very first magic-user, Tenser. As such, his collaborations to the game include the play testing of any material penned by his father during his time at TSR. You can blame Ernie for such game features as: Cone of Cold being 5th, not 3rd level, Haste spells aging their targets, different hit dice for different character types and classes, as well as multiple attacks for fighters in order to keep Tenser focused on his proper spell-slinging role in the game. Ernest was also the player of such reknown characters as Erac's Cousin, who ventured into the lands of Mars, and Burne, the magic-user of Hommlet that made it as an NPC in module T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil.
Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. became part of the TSR company, participated to the creation of such game products as the Dungeon Geomorphs, the Monster & Treasure Assortment, created the Water Weird and even gave the young company a slogan to fit its new image: “The Game Wizards”, for which he was handsomely rewarded by his father with a large glass of single malt and a cigar in his private office at age 16. Ernie wore many hats at TSR, from shipping clerk to EVP of Consumer Services in charge of 22 employees broken down into the Dungeon hobby shop, the mail order catalog services, Gen Con and the RPGA. He later was VP Creative for Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment, and Associate Editor of the Strategy & Tactics magazine in 1986. He is the co-author with his brother Lucion and David Moore of Troll Lord Games’s The Lost City of Gaxmoor, and more recently the co-author of the Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat'uul (the first level of the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module below) in Gygax Magazine Issue 3 and the Stone Alignments of Kor Nak (available for free from our website, see link below) with partner-in-crime Benoist Poiré.
BENOIST POIRE: Frenchman and mapper extraordinaire, Benoist lives in British Columbia, Canada. Though relatively new to game design, he has been part of various gaming communities on the internet for the better part of the last fifteen years. He started playing at age 11 with the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and later experimented with a great variety of games and play styles. Growing up, Benoist was tremendously inspired by his parents: Some of his most personal pencil techniques were directly handed down from mother to son, while his maps’ general structures owe a lot to his father’s analytical skills. Benoist soon became part of different gaming clubs, helped organize local conventions and wrote multiple amateur game modules.
Benoist ended up running the Original game of 1974 and became a contributor to Robert J. Kuntz’s blog, Lord of the Green Dragons. He later authored a critically acclaimed series of Advice to Build A Megadungeon and the Campaign Around It, and contributed to the development of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea role-playing game. Benoist published his first adventure module in AFS Magazine Issue 3. He since co-authored the Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat'uul and the Stone Alignments of Kor Nak with Ernest Gary Gygax, Jr.
For more information about GP Adventures, visit our website at gp-adventures.com.
The Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter is a completely self-contained sandbox module introducing Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.'s setting, The Hobby Shop Dungeon, and the lands of the Duinnsmere around it, to the gaming masses. The Marmoreal Tomb can be played entirely on its own, in whole or in parts, or used at the game table in conjunction with other GP Adventures offerings. It can be used with its own default setting of The Duinnsmere, and/or in conjunction to other settings, published and home-brewed. Its design seeks to reflect both the way Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. runs the game, and to be amenable to one's own preferences and play styles.
THE HOBBY SHOP DUNGEON is an adventure game setting originally created by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. in 1978 while working as a clerk for the fondly-remembered Dungeon Hobby Shop of Lake Geneva, WI. Inspired by the many games and campaigns he played with his father and many friends, and aided by incomplete maps initially drawn by Terry Kuntz, Ernest came up with a large sprawling dungeon complex that could be used to run games at the store. Since then, more than a thousand players have explored its depths, as remembered by Ernest, including TSR alumni, family members, customers and gamer friends, up to 22 players per sitting! It has been played in a variety of venues including Margaret Weis’s and Don Perrin’s Game Guild, in California’s Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment division, as a special event for game conventions and many more besides.
This is this entire dungeon and setting around it that GP Adventures wants to bring to publication via its Hobby Shop Dungeon game line, starting now with the Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter.
THE MARMOREAL TOMB
The Marmoreal Tomb is an entirely self-contained module that ties into the greater campaign of The Hobby Shop Dungeon. It is meant to present the Lake Geneva Gygaxian play style in its original form, using first edition compatible rules, and to be able to be used with different versions of the game as well, including its more recent variants, 5th edition included.
IN-GAME PREMISE: Nester's Folly, as the dwarves call it, is the underground maze under Castle Celadon created by the Archmage and “Eurthwright” Nester De Guyx, a personage who, despite some mentions in the Annals of the Duinnsmere, is shrouded in relative mystery. Tales abound about the magic-user and his many eccentricities, but little is known for sure. Nester in fact built the first levels of his dungeons with the help of a group of dwarves who would become the founders of the Stone-Cutter clan. They worked with Nester on the completion of the upper levels for many years, diligently so.
When their work was completed, the dwarves were rewarded by Nester who revealed to them the location of long-abandoned caves they could call home and use to quarry marble for themselves. The dwarves just had to be careful not to dig too deep within the mountain, and it would be alright. The Stone-Cutter clan moved to the mountain, built a settlement, and prospected around the place to find new marble veins to quarry.
The temptation was too much for them: soon enough, they found the sealed tomb of a Stone Giant under the settlement, and their greed got the better of them. They plundered it, and triggered tremors that would be felt by evil giants far away. Young Krassus, a Stone Giant Cambion, roused his brothers to arms, and together they attacked and utterly destroyed the dwarven hold, reclaiming those artifacts that were found in the tomb for themselves. Those few dwarves who survived the attack would ultimately find refuge back within Nester's Folly. The giants ultimately moved, and abandoned the place once again.
Years have gone by since the attack of Young Krassus. The ruined corridors of the Marmoreal Tomb are home to a variety of monsters who may one day grow and unite to become a threat to the lands south of the river Maeve. Now, the location of the Tomb has been found by a new generation of adventurers, and it is up to them to deal with this state of affairs and explore the Tomb. Unbeknownst to them, there are still burial vaults lying under the settlement, many of them undisturbed. Beyond the vaults, deep under the surface, lies an even greater threat, the Hearth of Chaos, cradle of the giants since time immemorial, a maze imbued by the ever-changing forces once unleashed by the lords of entropy upon the material plane. Will the player characters be able to avoid them entirely, or contain them if need be? That remains to be seen.
Starting work on The Hobby Shop Dungeon and the Marmoreal Tomb thereafter, we had three very clear and interconnected design goals we tried to address throughout the early phases of the project, and will continue to elaborate on as we produce the physical products and bring them all to the gaming table.
DESIGN GOAL #1: THE GYGAXIAN GAME. The Marmoreal Tomb has to present an authentic Gygaxian game play experience and present it in an original, unaltered format for those that want it. As such, the module is described by default using first-edition compatible rules, which allow game masters and players to experience the module the way it was played at Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.'s game table. This play style is directly inspired by the games Ernest played with his father, obviously, and we couldn't pass on the opportunity to bring about the publication of an entire castle and campaign that would honor and address this play style in an authentic fashion today.
Since the first advanced rules of the game are readily available for anyone to peruse today, whether in their original or free OGL formats, this default presentation will also be useful to those who use different editions and variants of the game, as they will be able to get access to the original format, use the material and tweak it in a manner significant to their own game and campaigns, whatever play style that implies.
The Main Module and two Expansion Packs include guidelines for use with other editions of the game by default, including its current Fifth Edition. If we make our funding goal, stretch goals include add-ons for full conversions to both Fifth Edition and Pathfinder game systems.
DESIGN GOAL #2: A MODULAR, NON-LINEAR GAME SETTING. Modularity and non-linearity are key to our offerings. While working on certain sets of premises (like a band of dwarves building a settlement or the presence of a Hearth of Chaos in your world), our modules are designed in a way that is reflective of the early design ethic of TSR offerings. This approach implies a description of open-ended locales of adventure which can be played straight, for exploration or “dungeon crawling” games using the original and advanced games, or inserted into different campaign structures using different rules sets with different play styles in mind.
We are not about to just redo or copy what has been done before. The Giants series, the Temple of Elemental Evil and Keep on the Borderlands are great modules because they do what they do best. We do not intend to “fix” or “replace” them. Not only are they not our properties to deal with, they are what they are for a reason. The Marmoreal Tomb is meant to take a place next to these classics as a broad, epic adventure gaming offering of its own.
This implies some new, fresh takes on the design conceits that made these classics great. In the Marmoreal Tomb's case, it comes from its modularity. As presented, the Marmoreal Tomb module can be used on its own, or in conjunction with one or two of its expansion packs, the “Wilderness” and the “Underworld”, built to reflect the game structure of the original game of 1974.
ALL THE MAPS included in this module and its expansion packs come along with map keys detailing the various features, locales and encounter areas on the maps for play. These descriptions make up the meat of the game module and expansions, just like classic TSR modules. The module and its expansion packs are each detailed using first edition compatible rules when relevant, and are accompanied with advice and guidelines explaining how to rescale the whole, use it with a different edition or variant of the game, and/or shift genres, play styles and/or role-playing games entirely.
THE MARMOREAL TOMB Main Module presents the first two levels of the complex and can be used entirely on their own, for starting character levels (1-3) with guidelines to rescale threats throughout. They form a complete unit of game play together, from the exploration of the dwarven settlement to the discovery through the PCs own actions of the burial vaults of the stone giants below, facing the threats that were lying dormant there until they were disturbed by their exploration.
THE WILDERNESS Expansion Pack describes the lands around the Hobby Shop Dungeon and Marmoreal Tomb, along with a description of various regions, landmarks, adventure locations, people and customs ripe for adventure around them. The village of Crom Caemloch is fully described, with NPCs, relationships, role-playing opportunities and the like. This village is meant to act as the home base of a group of adventurers exploring the Lower Midlands, The Marmoreal Tomb and The Hobby Shop Dungeon proper. Both elements, hex map and/or village, can be used on their own, with or without the Marmoreal Tomb. The map of the Lower Midlands can be used for an hex-crawling campaign, and the village dropped into one's home-brewed game setting. Given the open environment the hex map represents, threats can be lethal or benign for varying character levels throughout the campaign.
THE UNDERWORLD Expansion Pack can be used as its own separate adventuring location (with suggestions on how and where to place it on the Wilderness hex map), or as an extension of the Marmoreal Tomb proper. The Extended Burial Vaults expand on the second level described in the main module, include an alternate key for the central areas if used as a completely separate place as the Main Module's burial vaults, and alter the feel of the whole from the ruined vaults of the Stone Giants of the Main Module to a haunted place coming back alive under the influence of the living Chaos below. The source of this evil lies in the Hearth of Chaos, an enormous and complex level that is the cherry on the top of this Campaign Starter, a truly dangerous place where magic, evil and madness rule unchecked. While the Extended Burial Vaults are meant to be a challenge for heroic characters (levels 4-6), the Hearth of Chaos could challenge super-heroic characters (level 8+). The Hearth is meant to be a lingering adventuring location throughout the campaign.
To these three main modular parts of the Marmoreal Tomb, we added a Player's Guide to the Marmoreal Tomb, a softcover book that will present the basic setting information to new players of the game, including a version of our hand-drawn GP Adventure Character Record Sheet, information about the people and classes of the Duinnsmere, rumors about the Marmoreal Tomb the characters might have heard before they set out to find it, and more. We didn't want the players of the game to feel left out of this opportunity and wanted them to be able to own something that enhances the game from their standpoint as well.
THE PRISMATIC MAZE of Orum Heb. The SUPERHERO pledge level and beyond include an exclusive, one time deal to get the Prismatic Maze of Orum Heb in addition to the different moving parts of the Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter. The Prismatic Maze is a rotating dungeon level that can be used along with the Marmoreal Tomb itself, within the Hearth of Chaos included in the Underworld Expansion pack, or as an entirely different adventuring location of its own. It is the resting place of an ancient Liege of Chaos who created a magical prism and broke the light to separate the essences of the world and use them for his own devices in times immemorial. It is a dungeon level rife with both treasure and danger, an original design all of its own, as this prototype (the final map would be colored and more detailed) can attest:
OUR GOALS ARE EMBRACED AT EVERY LEVEL OF DESIGN. The main design goals for the Marmoreal Tomb are reflected not only in the form the Main Module and Expansion Packs take, but in every aspect of their design as well. Whether you would like to rescale the strength of the various opponents for different character levels in your game, whether two GMs run two different versions of the setting and the PCs from one campaign transition to the next, whether you want to use the design as part of a story arc rather than an exploration game, whether you would like to shift genres and run the Marmoreal Tomb in a Science-fiction or modern Horror setting, the form, substance of the Tomb and advice included with the Tomb will help you do just that.
DESIGN GOAL #3: CRAFTSMANSHIP. Every step of the way, we have been very careful to maintain an authentic gaming feel to this setting. We have drawn on our creative experiences in order to make the look of the setting reflect the game design ethics we feel we can best bring to the table. This implies products that feel and are professionally realized, well organized, with clean layouts and so on, but also communicate that feeling that this is indeed a setting created by gamers at an actual game table, for gamers far and wide, because that's who we are, first and foremost. The Hobby Shop Dungeon is a setting and product line that was born through actual play and campaigning. Its feel is built to reflect that, with entirely hand-drawn maps, pencilled artwork, the works, as if coming straight out of our own campaign journals onto your game table. We want that slightly rough, organic style that lets the imagination of gamers get into the material and do with it as they please. This is how gaming works best for us, and this is the type of game material we intend to bring to the hobby.
We are extremely excited at the idea of bringing the first complete piece of The Hobby Shop Dungeon to life with you all. In itself, the Marmoreal Tomb could support an entire campaign, as it did during some of our playtests, much like its classic forebearers did before it. The Marmoreal Tomb is ideal to introduce an entirely new generation of players to the feel and vibe of the original game. It is a project that means a lot to us. We see it as an occasion to make good on the promise to deliver a Gygaxian castle and campaign over the long run. It is our ultimate goal, and we are dedicated to it entirely. We hope you see it as a great opportunity to get some good, solid and fun gaming out of it all, and join us on this journey.
The game design phase is complete. The Main Module is entirely written and the two Expansion Packs entirely outlined. All the maps are done, and we have some entirely new art from fantasy artist Mark Allen as you can see here. We will soon move into production and will need professional editing, layout, as well as additional art to make this whole Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter all it can be for your game table. This is where we need your help. We invested a lot of time and money into this project already, and we are not about to quit – we will see it through. We have gone as far as we could carry it with that thought in mind, and now is the time make the product all it was meant to be.
If you decide to back this project, you will get the following rewards, depending on your pledge level (plus "+" indicate rewards automatically added via stretch goals):
REWARDS IN ADDITION TO THOSE INDICATED ON THE TABLE: The following table was last updated when the Players' Handouts were unlocked at the $74K mark. To these rewards now also add:
+ River System around level 1 to all pledges including the Main Module
+ GM Screen in Print for all pledges of HERO ($60) and over.
+ Sammi-Zowa versus the Dueling Dragons and Young Ernie's Life Story in digital format for all pledges of SELLSWORD ($40), HERO ($60) and above.
+ GM Cheat Sheets for all pledges including the Main Module and Underworld Expansion.
+ Wilderness Encounters and Hexes of the Midlands for all pledges including the Wilderness Expansion.
+ Miniatures-scaled Dungeon Tiles for all pledges including the Main Module and Underworld Expansion.
+ Twin Tankard AND Hireling Extravaganza for all pledges including the Wilderness Expansion.
+ Cyberpunk Customization Pack for the BARON ($150) plege level and over.
+ Mellifluous Shrine map for all pledges including the Underworld expansion.
In addition to the rewards you get for your pledge level, we have assembled an array of different products which can add value to your gaming experience. More add-ons will be unlocked if we make it past our main funding goal.
To include add-ons, just add their combined value to your pledge, and you are all set! You can change your pledge at any moment during the campaign to add any new add-ons that would be unlocked via stretch goals. We will confirm your pledge with you once the campaign is over with backerkit or similar services (see Shipping below).
NOTES ABOUT ADD-ONS
PAPER MINIATURES PACKS: Eric Chaussin is designing some paper miniatures to use in games using the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module and its Expansion packs. These are digital (PDF) documents requiring printing and attachment to miniatures bases as commonly sold online and in local game stores. Both Color and Black & White versions of the miniatures are included in each pack, whether one prefers a certain feel over the other, or one wants to distinguish different creatures at the game table, uses rules for such critters as “minions” and the like.
MARMOREAL TOMB AMBIENT MUSIC ALBUM: Marooned has agreed to compose and record an entire CD worth of ambient music for play sessions using the Marmoreal Tomb and its Expansion packs. We know some gamers like to set the mood for a proper game session. Both digital and physical CD formats are available.
MARMOREAL TOMB “GP ADVENTURES/OGRE” T SHIRT: We already have offers to print this T Shirt and we've put together the design (which could slightly change between now and printing) for you to see.
PLAYER'S GUIDES: These are the same Guides as those described above in the Design section, and the same included in the basic pledge levels of this kickstarter. If you want to add one or two copies to a pledge, or would like multiple packs of four for your entire game table, beyond a specific pledge level, this is the good way to go.
OLD SCHOOL REFERENCE AND COMPILATION DOCUMENT (OSRIC): Black Blade Publishing and Stuart Marshall of the First Edition Society have graciously agreed to let us include this fantastic hardcover along with this kickstarter project. This single hardback volume gathers all the first edition rules you will ever need to run the Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter and The Hobby Shop Dungeon proper. If you want to run the game the way it was first envisioned, these are the rules to get, all in one book, for a very decent price.
WHITE STAR - WHITE BOX SCIENCE FICTION ROLEPLAYING: Based on Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox, White Star brings all the simple elegance of WhiteBox out of the dungeon and into the stars! This complete roleplaying game includes seven new classes as well as rules for advanced technology, laser weaponry, space combat, and so much more! Ideal add-on with our Science Fiction and Science Fantasy Conversion document for the Marmoreal Tomb!
SCIENCE FICTION AND SCIENCE FANTASY CONVERSION DOCUMENT: This PDF co-authored with James Spahn will detailed how to use the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module and its Expansions in a Sci-Fi universe, instead of a medieval fantasy setting. Includes a complete, sample translation to the White Star Roleplaying Game (see above).
5TH EDITION CONVERSION DOCUMENT: Everything you need to use the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module and its Expansions with 5th edition rules, statblocks included.
PATHFINDER CONVERSION DOCUMENT: Everything you need to use the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module and its Expansions with Pathfinder RPG rules, statblocks included.
FOLD-UP MAPS PACK: All six maps of the Main Module and Expansions together in fold-up, 17'' x 22'' format.
CASTLES AND CRUSADES CONVERSION/GAXMOOR INSERTION DOCUMENT: This document gives you everything you need to run the Marmoreal Tomb and Expansions with Castles & Crusades, plus guidelines to use Ernest and Luke Gygax's Lost City of Gaxmoor on the hex map of the Wilderness Expansion pack.
MODERN HORROR-FANTASY CUSTOMIZATION PACK: Detailed guidelines and examples to use the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module and Expansion packs in a modern setting.
WEIRD SWORDS & SORCERY CUSTOMIZATION PACK: Everything you need to shift the tone of the main module and expansions for use with North Wind Adventures' Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and similar games.
THE BOX: This is a plain box with cover art from Jeff Easley built to contain the Module and Expansions and make the Campaign Starter a Boxed Set.
HACKMASTER CONVERSION DOCUMENT: Everything you need to use the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module and its Expansions with Hackmaster 5e.
DCC RPG CONVERSION DOCUMENT: Everything you need to use the Marmoreal Tomb Main Module and its Expansions with DCC RPG.
PHYSICAL GM SCREEN: One print copy of the Marmoreal Tomb GM Screen.
SAMMI-ZOWA VERSUS THE DUELING DRAGONS: A digital (PDF) copy of the story conceived by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr., written with Nerissa Montie, and illustrated by Simon Todd.
CYBERPUNK CUSTOMIZATION PACK: All the advice, examples and guidelines needed to use the main module and expansions in near-future, anticipation settings like Blade Runner, Cyberpunk and Shadowrun type game settings.
We will be confirming pledges and managing fulfillment some time after the Kickstarter ends. Backers will be charged for shipping at that moment, which represents an opportunity to space out payments and not choke on international charges, especially for those who are living overseas and not from the continental US.
We will assess the best way to fulfill (we have multiple options already on the table and have alternate plans in case something happens). We will ask everyone to confirm their orders, choose for a shipment method and be charged for it then and there, and fulfill from there.
Backers of this Kickstarter will be getting their copies first, including retailers. Any copies that make it into distribution channels will be available after we fulfill with the people and businesses who pledged and trusted us to deliver to them first.
Risks and challenges
We (Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. and Benoist Poiré) have worked on the Hobby Shop Dungeon project for more than two years, patiently updating and renovating the dungeon, developing the world around it, putting the pieces together so we would know exactly what we want, how we want it, and present the project to the wider gaming community knowing we have what it takes to complete it in a timely manner.
The Hobby Shop Dungeon and the Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter of which this is but the first salvo is our dream project, our masterpiece, and we've worked very hard to ensure this would be a premium product that would fulfill our common vision. We will not quit until that vision comes to life.
We have developed a reputation of diligence and trustworthiness in the gaming community: we might be delayed, we might encounter obstacles along the way, but we do what we say, and we say what we do. This is simply who we are.
This is our first Kickstarter campaign. We expect complications, and we are ready for them. We have the support of many friends and professionals in the gaming industry, many of whom have offered their time and advice to us along the way. If something goes wrong, we know we have a whole community around us to help us find an alternative.
We intend to add to the Gygaxian legacy of the game and build on it forward, towards the future, with our hard work and dedication to this project. This is but the first step towards that goal, and that means this project will be fulfilled in full.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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