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From the home campaign of GROGNARDIA's James Maliszewski to your gaming table, thanks to your support and a partnership with Autarch
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1,023 backers pledged $48,756 to help bring this project to life.

Last Hurdle Cleared, Looking Toward the Finish Line

Posted by Autarch (Creator)


  • What's the current status of the Dwimmermount project?

Autarch now has all the rights necessary to fulfill the backers' rewards and bonus goals as well as make them available for sale to people who missed out on the Kickstarter, thanks to an amendment of Autarch's contract with Dwimmermount creator James Malizewski. The terms of our agreement will create some changes in the way we move forward, but this is great news and I'm very excited to be back on the rails.

  • When will rewards be delivered?

A new schedule of estimated dates will be posted in the next update; our general priorities and strategy are discussed below.

  • What's new this week?

An overview of what the transfer of rights makes possible, examples of our goals for developing James' drafts, and thanks for some of the people who got us here.

What Rights Autarch Has And Why

When I re-established contact with James last week, his preferred solution to the impasse was a full refund to backers. He felt that the Dwimmermount draft fell short of his vision for the mega-dungeon, and one of the stresses he'd been suffering from was the conflict between wanting to do it justice and the mounting deadlines for completing the project. What he suggested was to give everyone their money back so that he could take as much time as he needed to achieve his creative goals for Dwimmermount without pressure.

I agreed with James that it would be better to do a mandatory refund than to continue without setting deadlines. However, I felt that the vast majority of backers would rather have what they pledged for, even if it's not perfect, instead of getting their money back.  Autarch can't release the dungeon exactly as James envisioned it, but I argued that as fans, we could use the publication rights to make a version fans will be happy with - or at least allow people the individual choice of a refund. 

The compromise reflected in yesterday's contract is based on the two versions of Dwimmermount that were already established. Since Labyrinth Lord was the system James used in his original campaign, we agreed to reserve the LL version of the mega-dungeon as the vehicle for James to potentially release a "director's cut" at some point in the future. Our contract gives Autarch the right to develop and publish a version of the dungeon using the Adventurer Conqueror King System. This will be derived from the ACKS conversion of James' draft we've already been working on, but we'll take it in our own direction and strike a reasonable balance between avoiding further delays and investing the time necessary to develop a product we can be proud of.

What this means is that we'll be using the Kickstarter funds to create just one version of the Dwimmermount hardcover and PDF. This will be written with statistics for ACKS, although we'll include a conversion guide to make it easy to run the dungeon using Labyrinth Lord. If you were a backer who requested the LL version of the dungeon, we hope you'll accept the version we are able to provide instead. However, we'll also gladly provide you with a refund, which you may later be able to use to purchase a version with LL stats. You may also want a refund if you want to wait for James' own version - or if you just don't want to wait any further at all. If so, just send us a message through Kickstarter letting us know whether you prefer check or PayPal and the address we should use in either case.

The O in OSR is for Open Game License 

Another implication of Autarch's contract with James is worth mentioning. Our agreement gives Autarch the perpetual, exclusive right to publish Dwimmermount. The way we left open the possibility of James later publishing his own "director's cut" was to stipulate that everything related to Dwimmermount will be designated as open game content, available for him or anyone else to use through the Open Game License. Since the Old School Renaissance is just one example of the communal creativity made possible by the OGL, I'm eager to see what gamers will do with this fantastic public resource. Commercial publication of remixes like Devilmount is one obvious possibility, as is conversion to other rulesets.

More good news is that James also agreed to designate his Grognardia posts about Dwimmermount as open game content. This was the writing that inspired Autarch's enthusiasm for Dwimmermount, and I think that being able to incorporate parts of it into our version will help us stay true to that inspiration. I'm also very excited by the possibility of combining the session reports from James' original campaign with his original notes to do some really cool stuff with the first bonus goal.

Strategy for Schedule and Development

In my next update, I'll provide a new schedule for when we expect to deliver the backer rewards. Our general approach will be to focus first on getting you the things you need to start playing. The wilderness mat, the mega-dungeon tracker, the separate map booklet, and the illustration booklet are all things we can complete quickly. It'll be a great feeling for me to get these into the hands of people who pledged for them (and to make them available for sale to people who didn't). More importantly, having these play aids out there will facilitate the playtesting that'll help make the later release of the hardback as good as we can collectively make it. 

Hardcover printing and shipping is the single most expensive line item in the budget. It's the reward that the greatest number of backers will be receiving, and the publication on which Dwimmermount's reputation will ultimately rest. Although it is the most anticipated item for these reasons, I feel it's also the one that we need to take the most time to get right. 

For people who are eager to start playing, one of the things I'll be looking at is the feasibility of doing an earlier PDF playtest edition - including illustration, maps, and functionality like bookmarks, but without waiting for all the planned development of James' draft - with a print-on-demand option for those who want an inexpensive perfectbound softcover copy at the gaming table. 

In future updates I'll also talk more about the plans for development of the draft. Me and Alex at Autarch will be taking the lead, since we are the people we can best trust to do it right. Opening things up to community input and providing opportunities for feedback by players and GMs will be a key part of our method. I'll also be looking to get other designers involved - I have some ideas in this regard, but I welcome suggestions for people who you think would bring something special to the project.

I don't expect Autarch's development will be a radical re-envisioning of the draft. I see the first half of our job as identifying the essentials that made Dwimmermount speak to all of us in the first place. The second half will be to fill in the gaps that gamers will need to bring this vision to life in their own campaigns. 

As an example of the first, the inserts for the mega-dungeon tracker will include each level of Dwimmermount rendered in one-page dungeon format. Creating this hybrid between the sparseness of James' original notes and the detail of his draft will be a key  step in laying the foundation for Autarch's final text.

As an example of the second, when I run Dwimmermount I like to roll for the possibility of wilderness encounters whenever the party travels between Muntburg and the dungeon. In the Brooklyn Strategist game, this generated a group of bandits who were charging a toll on adventurers seeking to enter or leave; at the ACA/PCA conference, the largest source of XP for the night was an unlucky encounter with a skittering maw on the road home, defeated by first-level PCs thanks to archery, frantic retreat, and lucky encounter distance roll. In order to play out these situations, allow them to be recurring features of a campaign, and also make connections within and without the dungeon like "what tribe do the Path of Mavors kobolds belong to?", Autarch will develop a local map of the region between the town and dungeon. This will be similar in scale to the one in B2: Keep on the Borderlands, where an entry might mark the hut of a single mad hermit, and will zoom in on a few of the six-mile hexes of Rob Conley's existing wilderness map. Adding this local scale will allow for the development of an "Upper Works" to the megadungeon that I think is rich in possibility.

Thank You and Good Night

I owe a debt of gratitude to all the backers who have made it possible for us to be where we are now, but there are a few people I'd specifically like to acknowledge.

First and foremost, of course, is James Maliszewski. His vision of Dwimmermount and his dedication in sharing that vision through his writing and blogging is what brought us together in the first place. My role in resolving the crisis on this project has been little more than trusting in James' honor and integrity to use the funds entrusted to him responsibly, and I'm glad he's trusted Autarch in return to carry on the torch.

I'd also like to thank Wesley Marshall and the other backers who joined him in exploring legal options. I'm grateful to y'all for being proactive, and willing to publicly stand up for your positions and discuss controversial issues reasonably and without hostility. I'm also glad that none of the potential scenarios you researched wound up coming into play!

Finally, my hat is off to backer and moderator The Wyzard, whose reaching out with friendly advice and expertise in contracts could not have come at a better time.

I'll look forward to posting here again next Friday, and in the meantime I'll be glad to answer questions at, at the Mages of the Mountain community on G+, by cell phone at (917) 749-6938, in person in Reno, NV until Monday and New York, NY after that, or in the comments here.




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    1. Missing avatar

      Greg Welty on

      Excellent. Thanks for going the extra mile here.

    2. Autarch 8-time creator on

      We've reached an agreement that will let us fulfill the LL version of Dwimmermount and worked out the new schedule of estimated delivery dates. I'm going to post an update with that info and then respond to individual messages; thanks for your patience!

    3. Luke Martinez on

      I've also sent a message requesting a refund. I hope to hear about at your earliest convenience.

    4. Missing avatar

      aremef on

      Thanks for clarifying that.

    5. Autarch 8-time creator on

      I am just about certain we'll find a way to fulfill the LL version of the rewards. Once I have the details nailed down I will reply to refund requests. I don't think it is realistic to expect that James will return to work on the project in a substantial way during our time frame for completion, so I'll be looking to be sure that we're refunding backers who would not be happy with a version of the dungeon that hasn't been overseen by James from start to finish, but not those who will be satisfied with a LL version once I can be sure how we'll be able to do that.

      I uploaded our amended contract with James to The relevant clause is "8) Labyrinth Lord. The Company agrees not to publish a version of the Product using the Labyrinth Lord rules, leaving this option open to the Creator as a vehicle for publication of his final creative vision, and will cooperate in good faith to promote any such efforts in future." Because Dwimmermount will become 100% open game content upon its publication by Autarch, despite this clause we could partner with another company who isn't bound by this agreement and can publish the LL version for us to distribute along with the other rewards. I wouldn't normally try to make an end run around James' intent as I understood it on the phone and tried to reflect it in the contract I drafted, just as I normally wouldn't assume that someone would tell me they were going to review this draft with their lawyer and still wind up signing a document that doesn't reflect their intent. However I trust Dan Proctor (Goblinoid Games) and if he says that James meant for Autarch to fulfill our LL version now as well as promote his LL "director's cut" later, that lines up with my responsibility to the backers and I'm eager to find a way to make it happen.

    6. Adam M on

      Hi Tavis, I've sent through a message via kickstarter requesting a refund. Hope to hear from you soon.

    7. Robert Morris

      I definitely would like some clarification on whether there is an LL version coming soon. If there is, I may stick it out. If not, I will probably ask for a refund.

    8. Machpants on

      If there is a LL version possibly coming I hope I can add another hardcopy now. I didn't pay for the extra copy when the KS was running but I hope I can add it to the package before it ships.

    9. Mark Delsing

      FYI, I specified tat I wanted a LL version in my original survey response, but if ACKS is what's being created, then I'm happy with receiving that. Honestly, I'd be happy to change my default to ACKS.

      Maybe, once things are more settled, it'd be a good idea to do a new survey.

    10. Autarch 8-time creator on

      It seems like there may have been some misunderstanding between James and I. I'll try to clarify as soon as possible, and will hold off on making refunds to backers who only wanted LL until it's clear whether we can release those.

    11. Missing avatar

      aremef on


      If it truly is the case that James was the limiting factor which led to ACKS being the only option......just wow....that says a lot. How unfortunate.

      I agree that "refund only" is much less satisfactory, otherwise I'd be asking for a refund.

      I have both systems, too. But I still maintain it could be a more difficult step to go from ACKS to LL than the other way around, especially if some of the feats or whatever the special powers and the extra classes from ACKS are tacked on. But I guess that's the hand Tavis was dealt. I'll wander over to the G+ group with some comments.

    12. Goblinoid Games on

      Hi Tavis, I'm a little confused about the recent update where you state you won't be doing a Labyrinth Lord version. I've been in touch with James Maliszewski and he said that when you presented the idea that he reserve the right to publish an LL version later he didn't realize that meant you were not going to publish a Labyrinth Lord version. I was wondering if you can clarify whether there is just a misunderstanding or whether you decided you didn't want to fulfill that part of the Kickstarter?

    13. Missing avatar

      Wesley E. Marshall on

      I don't think that Autarch being limited by James to coming out with only an ACKS version of Dwimmermount is in any way Autarch's preference. This only complicates the KS since there will be at least some who were only interested in the LL version. It seems to me that they had to struggle a little bit with James to just get permission to do the ACKS version and avoid the scenario of only being able to offer refunds, which would have been much less satisfactory IMO.

      I have both systems, and I'd say that they are 90%+ similar, so converting won't be that hard, but still an extra step.

    14. Missing avatar

      aremef on

      I'd much rather have an LL version, as it seems to me it would be easier for ACKS players to convert from LL than for LL players to strip out the ACKSioms. But hey, I understand you guys have a house system to promote, so that's a pretty shrewd business move on your part. Well played.

    15. Troy_Costisick on

      I'm really glad that the project is going forward. I absolutely do NOT want a refund. Even if the dungeon isn't what it was originally envisioned as, I want whatever we can get. I also love you're putting it into the OGL. You guys are awesome!!! Are we still going to get James' campaign notes?

    16. Alan De Smet on

      I'm glad to hear that things are moving forward once again. I'm a bit disappointed by the compromises, but I can see how you arrived at them and I'm willing to accept them. Ultimately I planned not on running Dwimmermount directly, but on ransacking it for ideas for my own dungeons, so being ACKS instead of LL is a small thing. Best of luck going forward, I look forward to it!

    17. Kornel on

      Good news, but I'm normally a LL player. Nevertheless since you offered discount coupons, I'm now eager to get one and use it for the ACKS pdf to see what it's about. I'm still in and happy! :)

    18. Missing avatar

      crazy_cat on

      Good news - although I'm also concerned about an ACKS only release.
      Can anyone explain ACKS to me as a system - how is it different and what are stats going to look like? I already own numerous systems, OSR and others (S&W, LL, OSRIC, BECMI, RC, AD&D, Pathfinder, C&C, Trailblazer) and have no desire to add yet another - so ease of conversion, and how the thing reads if I'm not using the ACKS system are a key concern for me.

    19. Missing avatar

      Jeremy Reaban on

      Good news, until I got to the part where it's only going to be for ACKS.

      While I admire how you've handled this, I just really find ACKS to be not my cup of tea

    20. Autarch 8-time creator on

      @Chris, we're setting up the Autarch site to handle taking payments outside of Kickstarter. Adding things to your order will then be treated like placing an order or pre-order, and you'll be able to do it anytime; we'll try to keep things in stock so that there won't be a time limit on when you have to order them by.

    21. Chris Vermeers on

      If we wanted to, say, add an item to our pledge (say we wanted to add the ACKS Players Companion or boost our reward level by adding the tracker or vinyl map), how would we go about that? When would we need to do that by?

    22. Missing avatar


      Just want to say that this is terrific news and in some ways even better than before (OGL!!!) and the PDF test release sounds like a great idea.

      - Colin

    23. Missing avatar

      Vicente Cartas

      Great to hear that has been solved at last Tavis :) You have done a top-notch work finding a solution to this turn of events, kudos for that :)