Straight from the Hill Cantons, comes a mini-sandbox played the hell out of by six play groups and over 40 players. Run, play or splice up 50-plus pages of mayhem and weirdness in this Slavic mythic-inspired (with an acid fantasy-twist) adventure for Labyrinth Lord or a well-aged fantasy rpg of your druthers.
You will laugh. You will cry. You will crawl points and shake your fists at the heavens and shout in despair. “Why me Radegast? Why Me?!” (Well no, you may chuckle a bit, spill your adult beverage and throw some funny dice though.)
But in all seriousness, let's get to the pertinent questions.
Who are You?
We are the Hydra Collective LLC, a newly-formed worker-owned company that aims to serve as a publishing vehicle for the DIY/Old School(ish) side of the rpg hobby. This product is primarily written by Chris Kutalik, the curator of the long-running Hill Cantons blog, and is ripped from his even longer-running campaign with an eye for adapted use by a broader audience. All the remaining hands on the project from the art to editing (Robert Parker and Anthony Picaro) to layout (Mike Davison) have been players in the campaign.
Why Kickstart This?
The short, simple answer is that good art, cartography, layout and editing cost money. The lion share of the modest $1,500 we are raising here will go to paying the fantastic David Lewis Johnson for the full color work you see above and a redrawing of the existent maps.
What Makes The Dunes Worth Backing?
A 21-site pointcrawl of the otherwordly Slumbering Ursine 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, bearling pilgrimage site and other assorted madness.
Two separate “dungeon” sites, the bio-mechanical, lost-in-time Golden Barge and the faction-contested 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 de-escalate 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).
What's Going on With these Backer Levels?
Test Drive $1. Like most hobbyists we hate buying products sight unseen. We feel pretty strongly that you will find something of interest in this product, but want to extend to backers a courtesy we want to see more in the hobby: the opportunity to read the draft and see if it works for you. A pocketful of chump change will get you access to the no-art version in the first week of the drive. If you want more you can up your pledge.
Adventure Only PDF $8. You get the final published copy of the Slumbering Ursine Dunes in DRM-free PDF format and the immediate gratification of the draft PDF above. We aren't big fans of expensive PDFs and have intentionally kept the price modest and affordable to reflect that. Note that you won't be getting the extra content freebies after the first stretch goal.
Adventure Only Print-on-Demand $12. At this level you receive all the of rewards above. It is important to note that at this level you get the softback print edition but it requires an extra step and a bit more dosh from you.
We will email you an at-cost voucher that will cover the $12 you put in. With that voucher you will be able to pay for a-cost copy of the Dunes at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. That step will cost you from our best calculation less than $4 (and likely closer to $3) plus domestic shipping if you are in the US or UK. We estimate the total cost to you at less than $20. We strongly believe that this is a win-win for both you and us as it speeds up the fulfillment end, reduces final costs to you and helps reduce the sky-high shipping costs for international backers.
Note that as above you won't be getting the extra content freebies after the first stretch goal.
Hill Cantons Complete(ish) $30. At this level you receive all previous backer rewards above, more importantly you get a heap of other content. For starters backers at this level will reap the benefits of the content-heavy stretch goals past the additional art.
You will also get a bundle of separate but related PDFs:
By This Axe. A published set of rules for running miniature medieval-fantasy battles written by Chris Kutalik. They were specifically designed to work with people running old school fantasy rpg campaigns.
By This Poleaxe. A set of battle rules based on By this Axe that is designed to be able to played fast and furiously at the table without miniatures.
Hill Cantons Compendium. A compilation of alternative rules,character background generator, new player classes,and other goodies from the Hill Cantons blog.
The Dunes Run Red. An exclusive mini-supplement that gives guidelines and lay outs scenarios for running battles between the various factions in the Dunes.
Hill Cantons Cosmology. Another exclusive supplement that provides a big chunk of background story on the gods, godlings, myths and cosmic weirdness of the Dunes setting.
"The Brad" $75. Limited to 20 high-rollers only. Receive all previous backer rewards as well as we print the book for you, sign it and cover your shipping to anywhere in the world. Backers at this level also receive access to all the stretch goals.
The Full Brad $100. The Big Kahuna level for interested backers. Receive all previous backer rewards and access to the stretch goals. Plus you get unique content exclusive to this level alone: four new points for the pointcrawl and a personalized NPC or monster. Plus you get early access to drafts of two new Hydra products.
What are the Stretch Goals?
Goal #1: $2000 Additional Art. UNLOCKED!
add four more professional illustrations by David
Lewis Johnson. Available to backers of $8 or more.
Goal #2: $2500 Cheat Sheet Dungeon Pamphlet UNLOCKED!
A handsome booklet designed to make the Slumbering Ursine Dunes a snap to use, this GM’s tool compiles all the information a GM needs to run the adventure into a series of two-page quick reference documents. Available to Hill Cantons Complete-ish, The Brad, and Full Brad backers only.
Goal #3: $3000 Slumbering Ursine Dunes Reimagined UNLOCKED!
Written by Anthony Picaro, this complete reworking of the Slumbering Ursine Dunes casts the players as trappers in Northern California in the 1830s, where they’ll encounter the weird inhabitants of a ‘mythic America’. Available to Hill Cantons Complete-ish, The Brad, and Full Brad backers only in PDF.
Goal #4: $4500 City Supplement Marlinko UNLOCKED!
your sandbox with this module which details a home city for
your players as well as two sinister mini-dungeons: the manse of Lady
Szara, a cosmopolitan vampire with an Eastern European flavor and the
bizarre Temple of the Blood Jesus, a cannibal sect introduced by a
drunken priest from another world. Available to Hill Cantons Complete-ish, The Brad, and Full Brad backers only in PDF.
Goal #5: $6000 Misty Isles of the Eld Module UNLOCKED!
ultimate plans of the sinister Eld are revealed with this PDF adventure, detailing a number of extra-dimensional sites for your players
to visit! Available to Hill Cantons Complete-ish, The Brad, and Full Brad backers only in PDF.
Goal #6: $7500 Bad Rajetz and the Frog Demon Temple
Two more PDF dungeon sites to add to your sandbox! In Bad Rajetz, your players must outwit competing cults of human leather-working cannibals if they are to plumb the dungeons beneath their backwater village, while the Frog Demon Temple introduces a new threat from beyond Space and Time. Available to Hill Cantons Complete-ish, The Brad, and Full Brad backers only in PDF.
Risks and challenges
We've put a great deal of thought into both avoiding the all-too-common pitfalls of tabletop rpg projects and treating our backers ethically. Please note that if the stretch goals are met, especially the higher heavy-content goals, those will likely add time to the final completion of the project (though we are confident that we can deliver the final adventure module itself on time.)
Some of our counter-measures:
1. The manuscript is currently in a almost-ready-to-ship state. Six rounds of editing have gone through the draft over the past few months. (We anticipate that at least one round to incorporate backer feedback during the month of the Kickstarter).
2. We've added a bottom $1 “test drive” tier where you can get the draft PDF immediately. All tiers will receive this and at the minimum have some level of instant gratification.
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.)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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