There once was a monastery perched high on a slope of the mountain called Hvitr’s Horn. The warrior-monks who dwelt within were dedicated to the god Hvitr—lawful god of storms and justice—and entrusted with the stewardship of holy artifacts and texts. But above all else they were gatekeepers; for Hvitr’s Horn was an active volcano, and thus (like all active volcanoes) a gateway to Ellorash, an elemental plane of fire. The end of this brotherhood came with an eruption that spewed forth the Flaming Host of Ellorash, an otherworldly legion led by the demi-goddess Gildarthe. Legend holds that Hvitr himself descended from the heavens to beat back Gildarthe and seal the planar gateway, but not before the monastery and all within were drowned in a flood of lava.
Now, 300 years later, the steading of Meervold, at the foot of Hvitr's Horn, has entered a dark time. Villagers are disappearing. Strange lights are seen on the cold slopes. Distant screams echo through the night. The Council of Elders is broken and powerless, and those who have not fled Meervold remain only because they are paralyzed with fear.
What secrets lie beneath the ruined monastery? Are any of the missing villagers still alive? Is there any truth to the rumors of holy artifacts locked within the mountain?
Only a fool or an adventurer would dare seek the answers!
Servants of the Cinder Queen will be a 24-page, digest-size booklet (5.5" x 8.5"), printed on off-white paper with a tan cardstock cover.
I'm a cartoonist and professor of comics at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. I was weaned on the 1st edition of Dungeons & Dragons in 1977. D&D has been a major influence on my work as an author, artist, and educator.
I discovered Dungeon World and the Old School Renaissance at the same time, and Servants of the Cinder Queen is the direct result. What happens when you cross the open-ended, quick-playing, improvisational thrill of a modern RPG with the specificity and flavor of the Golden Age of adventure modules? Probably lots of different things. But one of them is this.
With this project, I've tried to create an adventure for Dungeon World that's more detailed than a Front, but less detailed than a classic AD&D module. The GM is given all of the building blocks—an oppressed village, a ruined monastery, a mad sorcerer, a lost tome, warring gods, an active volcano, a plane of elemental fire—but has the freedom to combine and create connections between them according to how things unfold at the table.
I wrote Servants of the Cinder Queen over the course of one feverish week, and since then have been editing and refining it to fit my vision of the final product. That vision includes a lot of great custom black-and-white art with a comic book vibe, so I tapped Keny Widjaja, a former student of mine (and avid gamer) who I knew could give the adventure the look I wanted. You can see more of Keny's amazing illustration and comics work on his website.
The "beta" pdf of the adventure is content complete, and I've already paid Keny to produce illustrations for the cover (above) and one interior page spread, which you can see here:
By backing this project at the $3 level or higher, you gain immediate access to the beta pdf, which is ready to play and lacking only the art. The adventure has already undergone a lot of playtesting, but I am looking at this funding campaign partly as an opportunity to solicit and incorporate more feedback before the book goes to print.
I have run this adventure several times as a 0-Level "Funnel" in the style of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game (DCC RPG), using my own custom hack of the Dungeon World rules. A Funnel adventure is one in which the players take the part of lowly, randomly-generated villagers dropped into a high-fatality crucible of terror. If you're curious, you can read an example of an actual Funnel game I ran using the DCC RPG here. My hack is an attempt to capture the joys of the Funnel using the Dungeon World rules.
If we reach $1800, I will edit and format my 0-level rules for Dungeon World, along with tips on how to run Servants of the Cinder Queen as a Funnel using these rules. This should amount to a 10-12 page digest-size document.
These rules will be made available to all backers in pdf form, and if you back at the $20 or higher level you'll get a hard copy sent along with your copy of the adventure proper.
If we reach $1960, Keny will create a set of 12 item cards, one for each important item that appears in the adventure. Each card will feature a black-and-white illustration and simple description of the item on one side, and the name of the item and complete description on the other. These cards can be handed out by the GM as items are discovered, with the GM giving the players permission to look only at the front or at both sides as desired. I personally find it much more entertaining to let players figure out how artifacts work without any help, but playstyles vary!
These item cards will be made available to all backers in pdf form.
If we reach $2320, Keny will create cards for 12 NPCs, gods, and creatures that appear in the adventure. Each card will feature a black-and-white illustration of the character on one side, and a name, description, and stats (if applicable) on the other. These cards can be placed face-up on the table by the GM as characters are encountered, allowing the GM to use the backs for easy reference if needed.
These character cards will be made available to all backers in pdf form. In addition, if the character cards are unlocked, the combined item and character cards will be made available on DriveThruCards as a deck that can be independently ordered and printed on demand.
After negotiating with the artist, researching shipping costs, and getting quotes from various printers, here are the numbers that tally up to the $1600 funding goal:
$600 for 18-20 black-and-white illustrations, +$310 for printing and shipping of books to Vermont, +$500 for shipping 250 3 oz. books from Vermont to backers = a sub-total of $1410...
...+$141 for Kickstarter/Amazon Payments fee (10% of $1410), +$49 buffer (and to bring it up to a nice round number), = a basic funding goal of $1600.
The Stretch Goal numbers are based on Keny doing the extra necessary illustrations. I personally will not be getting paid for this project unless the funding goals are exceeded, and only if there's anything left over after money is set aside for taxes.
$3+ : IMMEDIATE PDF ACCESS
If you pledge at the $3 level or higher, you get access to the current "beta" version of the pdf of the adventure. This pdf will be updated periodically up until we go to print. You will also have access to a pdf of the 0-Level Funnel rules, if the $1800 Stretch Goal is met.
PLEASE NOTE that the download link to the pdf will be posted as a Kickstarter Update, which you can access after you pledge by clicking on the Updates link at the top of this page.
$50+ : VILLAGER PLAYBOOK
If you pledge at the $50 level or higher, you get to roll up a Villager using the 0-Level Funnel rules, and will receive a filled-out pdf playbook for that character, complete with a black-and-white portrait. Jason will draw this portrait based on his own interpretation of your rolls (which determine things like occupation, starting equipment, and character traits).
$150+ : CHARACTER PORTRAIT AND MINIFIG
If you pledge at the $150 level or higher, Keny will produce pdfs of a custom portrait and paper minifigure of a character or creature of your choice. PLEASE NOTE that the minifig will not be pre-printed or pre-cut, but delivered as a print-ready pdf.
Here's an example of what a portrait and minifig (after assembly) will look like:
Risks and challenges
Keny is one of the most productive and responsible artists I have encountered in my 20+ years as a professional cartoonist, and we have discussed the production schedule at length, so I have no doubt that he can deliver the goods on time. The only potential obstacles I foresee are holdups at the printer's end.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)