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An alliance of cultists, ghouls, and vampires. A scheme of the dark gods against humanity. New maps, dark realms, monstrous societies!
2,337 backers pledged $168,687 to help bring this project to life.

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Empire of the Ghouls: A 5th Edition Campaign vs. the Undead project video thumbnail
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$168,687

2,337

A few torches, and a mountain of courage. That's all it takes to go down into the lands of endless darkness.

This project delivers a full 5th Edition campaign of dark fantasy adventure. It begins with undead plagues upon the surface, and then sends the heroes into the Underworld. Into the hungering dark. 

Allied with vampires, the darakhul of the Ghoul Imperium turn their attention to the surface. Emperor Nicoforus the Pale remains wary of further expansion, but others are not satisfied with  caution. These ghouls have set plans in motion to gain further control of the surface world and spread their dark religion across the land. 

This project delivers a full adventure from levels 1 to 13 that begins with stirrings of ghoul trouble in Zobeck and eventually sends heroes into the Underworld to confront the leaders of the ghoul uprising. And it doesn't stint on the dangers of the Underworld: purple worms, bone collectives, kobold tinkers, otyughs, the derro and their strange madness, and, of course, the ghouls with their baronies and armies, implacable and alien and utterly without pity. 

The Empire of the Ghouls for 5th Edition Kickstarter offers three main elements: 

1) the Empire of the Ghouls adventure campaign hardcover for the GM, a continuous storyline for an epic adventure from levels 1 to 13, that also includes new undead magic, a detailed tour of the Ghoul Empire, new monsters, and unforgettable villains.

2) an Underworld Player's Guide softcover book of new player options, including new underworld races, new subclasses and tools, backgrounds, and undead-themed spells.

3) a set of additional encounters, the Underworld Lairs. These standalone, single-map adventures are similar to Eldritch Lairs or Creature Codex Lairs. This book will contain between 5 and 12 such encounters, depending on stretch goals.

Together with some book-expanding stretch goals, this project provides new cavernous, dark lairs, character options, and a full campaign to draw adventurers against the dark gods and their minion. Here's an easy reference for all the pledges and rewards.

The core print books (Empire hardcover, Underworld Player's Guide softcover, and the Underworld Lairs softcover) will all be offered as add-ons for those who want more than one copy. 

While we always like to throw in one or two other add-ons of interest, offering a larger number of items makes it difficult or impossible to deliver EU-friendly and Canadian-friendly shipping. So we're going to keep it simple. 

Additional add-ons may be announced over the course of the project; all add-ons will be available to backers during the Survey phase of the project (so you need not pay for them as part of your initial pledge).

A large and proven creative team has been working on this project since early 2018. The designers on this project include lead designer Richard Green plus contributing designers Chris Lockey, Dan Dillon, Jeff Lee, Jon Sawatsky, Kelly Pawlik, Mike Welham, and Wolfgang Baur. The project editor is Meagan Maricle.

Naturally, the look matters as well. The Kobold Press art director is Marc Radle, and our lead cartographer is Jon Pintar. Our cover artist is Craig J Spearing, and the video also features art by Bryan Syme, Egil Thompson, Roberto Pitturru, and William O'Brien. 

We have early stretch goals commissioned by Darrin Drader, Richard Green, Jeff Lee, Jon Sawatsky, Wolfgang Baur, and Kelly Pawlik. (If a particular stretch goal is not funded, it may be published separately.)

This project builds on earlier Ghoul Imperium work by Wolfgang Baur, Scott Gable, and others.

Shipping costs from the US to anywhere outside North America have risen sharply in recent years, so we are once again partnering with groups in Canada and the EU. Kobold Press will pay customs and import duties for those packages, but they will take additional time to ship as they enter the mail system after an additional journey. 

Our best guess for those Canada-friendly and EU-friendly costs right now are roughly $24 shipping for Canada and roughly $34 for shipping to the EU. The UK, Norway, Switzerland, and Russia should expect shipping costs of approximately $50. We do not have an Australia estimate yet but anticipate shipping costs of $70 or more; we will not be working with a local partner due to the relatively low volume.

To calculate shipping to your location from the US, you can use the US Postal Service calculator and assume a Medium size flat rate box:  https://postcalc.usps.com/ 

Our goals are primarily about improving the campaign by adding new material to the Lairs book, expanding the lore of the underworld, and providing more player options

The compiled and unlocked goals are listed first, then the 3 next goals in line. With your help, we hope to unlock everything and provide a rich, dark, and dangerous campaign!

And that exceeds our wildest dreams by a ton! Thank you to all backers for your support!

Risks and challenges

Kobold Press has published over 100 printed books and hundreds of PDF releases in its 13-year history. The main challenges to timely completion have been the loss of designers or artists due to illness or family issues. While there is no guarantee that the team will remain healthy, you'll be kept informed if any such issues come up.

We have a full manuscript for the Empire of the Ghouls campaign currently in editing, and we have designers working on the Player's Guide and Lairs. However, there are always risks, and the largest risk for a small company like Kobold Press is a health issue or personal tragedy for one of our primary contributors, such as the publisher, art director, or lead editor. We can't plan around that, but we have mitigated it by having text and art and maps either complete or assigned.

In addition, our past projects have shown us that overseas manufacturing and shipping to locations outside the US both carry substantial risks, especially with respect to 1) tariffs, brokerage fees, and customs fees, and 2) increases in US postal costs. To address the first we partner with EU and Canadian partners, and we are hedging against the second by charging postage separately in BackerKit.

Based on prior years' trends, we fully anticipate another rate increase by the US Postal Service on January 1, 2020. If it follows past years, it will affect shipping overseas to a larger degree than US shipping, where we expect a more moderate increase in costs. You can find US international postal rates for a 3 pound hardcover to 5 pound multi-volume package here: https://postcalc.usps.com/

In addition, the complexity of international fulfillment mean that overseas rewards will take longer to fulfill than rewards shipped within the US. We strive to make sure they are as timely as possible, but working with overseas partners invariably means that timelines are longer and deliveries more complex.

On the digital side, please note that Roll20® is not responsible for the completion, quality, or timely delivery of this content; it will deliver the associated reward only if and when all digital materials are provided in a timely manner.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    Underworld Player's Guide PDF

    Get new PC races, subclasses, backgrounds, spells, gear, and more in the Underworld Player's Guide PDF.

    Includes:
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Access to Updates and Streams
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    58 backers
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    Pledge US$ 14 or more About US$ 14

    Underworld Lairs PDF

    The maps and encounters for the undead and their allies, on the surface and underground. Full PDF plus the VTT map pack included.

    Includes:
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Access to Updates and Streams
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    28 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 20 or more About US$ 20

    Underworld Player's Guide PRINT & PDF

    FIRST TORCH BEARER: You get a copy of the Underworld Player's Guide in both print and PDF form! Plus access to the backer updates and previews.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Access to Updates and Streams
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    32 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 22 or more About US$ 22

    Underworld Lairs Softcover + PDF

    Undead encounters for the dark of night and the dark below. Includes PDF map pack and PDF copy of the print book.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    15 backers
    $
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    Empire of the Ghouls Campaign PDF

    Full campaign from levels 1 to 13, in PDF, with map pack and access to the various discussions and updates. Plus access to playtest materials before publication.

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
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    94 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 45 or more About US$ 45

    Full VTT Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds

    Your choice of platform, the full campaign book, the player's guide, and underworld lairs, ready to play!

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls Roll20 OR Fantasy Grounds
    • Player's Guide Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Lairs Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
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    67 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 45 or more About US$ 45

    PURE PDF: Empire, Lairs & Player's Guide

    Full campaign from levels 1 to 13, in PDF, with map pack, Underworld Lairs collection, and Player's Guide.

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
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    485 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Empire of Ghouls Hardcover + PDF

    CORE BOOK: You get the campaign book in print and PDF shipped to you, plus the Map Pack.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls Hardcover
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    128 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 70 or more About US$ 70

    Ghouls Hardcover & Player's Guide + PDF

    The hardcover campaign book plus the softcover Player's Guide give you everything you need for yourself and your players to venture into the darkness below! Includes print and PDF.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls Hardcover
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    152 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 84 or more About US$ 84

    Full Digital Campaign + PDF

    The campaign, the lairs, and the player's guide in both VTT and PDF form.

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls Roll20 OR Fantasy Grounds
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Player's Guide Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Lairs Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    • Playtest Access
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    91 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 85 or more About US$ 85

    ALL PRINT BOOKS & PDFS

    COMPLETE PRINT+PDF DEAL: You get the Empire campaign books, the Player's Guide, the Underworld Lairs expansion, the map pack, and access to all streams and updates. You also get the PDFs of all three books.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls Hardcover
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    941 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 125 or more About US$ 125

    BLACK EDITION Limited Run Hardcover +PDF

    A hardcover copy of the Underworld book in leatherette with silver foil stamped cover, ornate endpapers, and black ribbon bookmarks. Also includes the PDF version and map pack.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Limited Edition Ghouls Hardcover
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 16 backers
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    Pledge US$ 140 or more About US$ 140

    3 BOOKS 3 FORMATS: PRINT PDF + VTT

    3 BY 3 OH YEAH: The ghouls campaign regular edition hardcover, the player's guide, and the lairs in print, in PDF, and on the VTT! All three books in all three formats.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Empire of Ghouls Hardcover
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Empire of Ghouls Roll20 OR Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Lairs Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Player's Guide Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    102 backers
    $
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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 170 or more About US$ 170

    All PRINT Books Limited Edition + PDF

    You get the limited-edition hardcover, the Underworld Lairs softcover, the Player's Guide softcover, plus PDFs of all three and the digital map pack.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Limited Edition Ghouls Hardcover
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 73 backers
    $
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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 275 or more About US$ 275

    UNDERWORLD DESIGNER: 3 books + Design

    As with the prior reward, you get the Limited Edition hardcover, the Underworld Lairs, the Player's Guide, the VTT for Roll20 or FG, and the PDFs. You also gain access to the Dark Imperium Design Forum, where we will brainstorm encounter tables, shrine and cavern locations, vampire and ghoul customs and heirarchy, and magic, monsters, and mayhem in the Open Design style. Some of these brainstorms will lead to material in the gazetteer and tabular portions of the Underworld hardcover.

    Shipping is charged at the time we fulfill your reward. See Shipping in the main Kickstarter text.

    Includes:
    • Limited Edition Ghouls Hardcover
    • Access to Dark Imperium Design Forum
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Empire of Ghouls Roll20 OR Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Lairs Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Player's Guide Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 8 backers
    $
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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 750 or more About US$ 750

    BLACK LEATHER, BONE SCROLL

    LORD-COMMANDER: You get a signed, hardcover edition, in finest hand tooled and stamped leathers, with ornate and macabre endpapers, ribbon bookmarks, and a bone scroll tube and scroll from the Imperium, a unique prop accessory suitable to any necromancer, dungeon master, or ghoul lord. Plus all prior rewards including access to the Dark Imperium Design Forum.

    Includes:
    • Black Leather Handbound Edition
    • Bone Scroll Tube from the Imperium
    • Access to Dark Imperium Design Forum
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Empire of Ghouls Roll20 OR Fantasy Grounds
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Player's Guide Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    • Playtest Access
    Less
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 4 backers
    $
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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    PATRON COMMISSIONS

    LORD HADES: You rule the Underworld with an iron fist, Lord! You get all the PDFs, the special leatherbound version of the book, the bone scroll, printed maps of the setting suitable for play, and all stretch goal items and both VTT formats. In addition, you gain naming rights for a temple, cavern, or shrine of the Underworld included in the adventure or lairs. But merely one such item is not sufficient! You may also commission a particular NPC, magic item, or location in the final book (subject to designer approval!). Plus the satisfaction of ruling the Underworld and directing the path of the River Styx, of course.

    Includes:
    • Black Leather Handbound Edition
    • Bone Scroll Tube from the Imperium
    • Design Commission: A Location in the Underworld
    • Design Commission: Character, Item or 2nd Location
    • Access to Dark Imperium Design Forum
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Empire of Ghouls Roll20 OR Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Lairs Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Player's Guide Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    • Playtest Access
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    LORD HADES DELIVERS

    SUMMON DESIGNER: Wolfgang Baur flies to your location in the US or Canada to deliver your books personally--including a draft manuscript with all editorial corrections, a one-of-a-kind document, and printer's proofs.

    Wolfgang will run a marathon game session for you and up to 4 friends set in the Underworld. This reward is also available in the EU, UK with Richard Green in charge of delivery.

    Includes:
    • Personal Manuscript Delivery
    • Black Leather Handbound Edition
    • Ghoul's Signet Ring
    • Bone Scroll Tube from the Imperium
    • Empire of Ghouls PDF
    • Empire of Ghouls Roll20 OR Fantasy Grounds
    • Design Commission: A Location in the Underworld
    • Design Commission: Character, Item or 2nd Location
    • Access to Dark Imperium Design Forum
    • Underworld Lairs PDF
    • Underworld Digital Map Pack
    • Underworld Lairs Softcover
    • Underworld Lairs Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Underworld Player's Guide PDF
    • Player's Guide Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds
    • Softcover Underworld Player's Guide
    • Playtest Access
    • Access to Updates and Streams
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
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Funding period

- (30 days)