Soul for the Ocean Dark: Discover Your Heroes of Legend
Isolated in an ocean of eternal night, a lighthouse’ divine light protects people eking out a living against the ever encroaching chaos. One day a thunderous howl echoes across the land.
A flicker… a shudder. Then. Darkness.
Even torches threaten to burn out as the creatures of the black Void crawl out to consume all they can catch.
Can you relight the beacon of salvation before all you know and love is devoured by the crawling dark?
A DCC Funnel Adventure
Character Creation Should Be An Adventure
A discovery, not a slog.
Soul for the Ocean Dark is a 0 level funnel adventure designed for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG system. It is the story of an impossible call to adventure with the highest of stakes: save a world interrupted, or face certain doom.
Players will create characters from a dark and isolated world which has never known a sun. A towering, mystical lighthouse provides the closest thing to natural light for this world. Since time immemorial, it has pushed back against the oppressive darkness of the Void, providing salvation from the endless horrors that await in the dark. Suddenly, the world is plunged into darkness. With the hope of their people on their shoulders, and sputtering torches in their hands, the players must seek the missing light.
From a dark and grim foray through the Fungus Wilds, to consoling a god, to besting a tempest storm – players must gather all of their wits and resolve to face their destiny.
Judges, get your players ready for 20+ pages of adventure!
In Soul for the Ocean Dark, the archipelago dotting the Shadow Sea is a hidden legend unto itself. Created eons ago by a pair of gods, not everything went according to plan. Even gods have limits, and the growth of this world has long been stilted. The ancient village of Omera’Palissada has always been on a razor’s edge of survival, fishing the dark waters for sustenance under the unfaltering lighthouse of their patron gods.
With the light suddenly gone, your players must find a way to restore it. They will set forth on a daunting quest to face their gods and return the divine power to the Lighthouse. This will not be easy, as the deep darkness is home to supernatural creatures long kept at bay, eager to take advantage of this sudden boon. The pincers of Giant Crabstosities, the swooping jaws of Boros, the gnashing teeth of Oki – some of these monsters are driven by hunger, others compelled by divine force. Whatever their motivation, they eagerly await in the shadows.
Fuel your imagination with inset black and white illustrations of the village, the monsters, maps of ancient ruins, island sea charts, and more.
Don’t Just Write your Backstory… LIVE your Backstory
Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) RPG is a d20 RPG system that was crafted by Goodman Games as a homage to the earliest editions of D&D. It is a return to combating capricious dice as much as monsters. Players delve into dungeons and exotic locations for treasure and glory.
DCC has a few unique features which set it apart from D&D. Players start with not one character, but several. The first adventure played is called a “Funnel." This is a “coming-of-age” tale and a time of desperate survival, where life is cheap and only the heroic survive. Depending on the size of the party, each player starts out controlling 2-4 player characters.
Characters are generated almost completely by rolls of the dice. This liberates players from the catch-22 of needing to know how to play to build their characters before they play. Characters are not yet heroes, so they are easy to relate to and easier to play.
Here at The Keep Studios we LOVE funnels as a method of creating characters. It’s a fantastic way for new players to jump in and get straight to the meat of the game. Don’t just write your backstory… LIVE your backstory!
You can learn more about the DCC system at Goodman Games.
We have also written a quickstart guide on our website, including some tips for people new to RPGs in general: Starting out with DCC.
Francisco Duarte returns with a new adventure!
Francisco Duarte is a Portuguese sci-fi and fantasy author, and the creator of The Keep Studios’ first Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure - Sword in Jungle Deep. Francisco lives in Aveiro, Portugal, with his girlfriend, Marta. When he’s not writing he usually enjoys reading and playing RPGs and other tabletop games with his friends. He has written several short stories for tabletop and video games, as well as one sci-fi novella.
Being a trained anthropologist, he draws inspiration from myths and cultures from all over the world, meshing them into unique realms that come alive in front of the reader’s eyes. He then creates realistic characters to face the overwhelming odds of surviving in such settings. Not all get to survive, but without some challenge what’s the fun of living?
Cover Art and Cartography By Alena Lane
The artists from our first book, Sword in the Jungle Deep, return for our second adventure!
Alena Lane has already completed the stunning cover art for our book, and will be once again taking the lead on all of the interior maps. Her map for Sword in the Jungle Deep may be one of our favorite pieces.
We can't wait to share more of her work with you once it's complete, but for now you can get more of a taste for her art on her Instagram.
Lonny Chant Returns as our Interior Illustrator
We love his linework and the striking contrasts in his black and white pieces. We can't wait to see his take on our new adventure.
The PDF will contain all the content of the print edition in a digital download format. Great for reading on a mobile device while on the go.
The book will be a high quality perfect bound adventure module, with glossy cardstock color cover and 20+ pages of high quality paper with crisp black and white text and illustrations. This book will feel nice in your hands, and will be something to be proud of having on your shelf.
The Monster and Encounter Cards
Two of our stretch goals are to fund the creation of physical artifacts to help you run the game: "Monster" and" Encounter" cards. The cards are planned to be standard US playing card size with embossed printing to give you the highest quality experience.
When the first goal is reached, the smaller set of Monster Cards will act as handy reference guides for the monsters' stats and appearance. Having a fast, clear and attractive reference during fights will improve the gameplay experience.
Upon successful funding of the next stretch goal, the Monster Cards would be available as a stand alone set, but would also be folded into a higher tier reward item including all possible encounters; e.g., traps, pitfalls, and natural phenomenon. This "Encounter Deck" will allow you to draw cards instead of rolling on tables for the many possible encounters while exploring the world. Let the players draw their own encounters, and survive the fickle fate they have brought on themselves!
These canvas prints will feature the cover art in a high quality wall mountable format. We're working with printers to produce prints ready to be hung on walls as an eye-catching collectible. We have selected a standard 11 x 14 inch format to fit nicely amongst any decor.
"Early Bird" Reward Tier
This tier includes a book produced for you “At-Cost.” As normal, you pay your pledge here on Kickstarter, and when your rewards are ready, you will receive a link to finish your order with DriveThruRPG. In this way you will be paying DriveThruRPG directly for the actual printing costs with no mark-up from us! This is part of our “Thank you” to our Early Bird backers. Also, your shipping charges will be accurate as you will be able to provide up-to-date shipping information.
"The Curious" and Higher Tiers
We'll send you an email once your rewards are ready, so you can fill in your up-to-date shipping information and pay accurate shipping charges for your goods.
See the FAQ section for more details on our approach to shipping.
Stretch Goals - Higher funding means even better rewards
- $1500: UNLOCKED Custom Level 0 Professions - A custom table of professions in the setting of the world for generating characters.
- $2000: UNLOCKED 5e Compatibility - Encounter conversions for playing with the 5e SRD games.
- $3000: UNLOCKED Monster Cards - A card set containing all the monsters encountered in the adventure. Useful for easy reference, and random encounter generation. Use them again and again in all your adventures.
- $4000: UNLOCKED Full Encounter Deck - Randomly generate encounters by drawing cards from a deck instead of rolling against a table.
- $6000: The Nightshroud Crabstosity Miniature - A Territorial Hulking Armored Titan which stalks the land, crushing those to sluggish to flee in its terrible grasp. Once unlocked available to any level as a $20 addon.
- $8000: The Glider Miniature - The Razor-toothed Rayshark Hunter of the Deep known to breach the water at lightning speeds to knock untethered sailors into the sea to become a certain feast. Once unlocked available to any level as a $20 addon.
- $10,000: The Boro Miniature - An Apex Predator Of The Sky which snatches up the unwary to drop them to their doom on hard coastal rocks before devouring their pulverized flesh and bones. Once unlocked available to any level as a $20 addon.
Welcome to the Keep.
We love tabletop role-playing games!
We’ve rounded up a passionate team of RPG-loving writers, editors, and artists, and formed The Keep Studios.
The Keep Studios has been playing RPGs together for years. Every so often, we create fantastic story ideas that we burn to share!
Our First Adventure Book - Sword in the Jungle Deep
After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we crafted our first adventure, Sword in the Jungle Deep. This taught us a lot about adventure book production, and we’re using this experience to expand our catalog with your help.
Sword in the Jungle Deep was reviewed by the fine folks over at Spellburn, a DCC centered podcast. Here are some of the things they had to say:
“A really nice classic Appendix N feel… very Conan wandering around in the jungle, looking for the lost temple... A great classic, old school feel… Keep ‘em coming!” –Judge Julian
“A funnel adventure… that I think you could run as a first level adventure.” –Judge Julian
“The art on the inside is really quite lovely, and I especially like the cartography of the main map, it very much has the DCC vibe… In terms of content… it has this really kind of nice, pulpy, Appendix N vibe to it. .. and what cracked me up… at the end of every box text, there’s a little TLDR section which I thought was hilarious… and actually very clever and helpful.. at the table.” Judge Jeff
They also had some great constructive feedback that we have considered while developing Soul for the Ocean Dark. You can listen to the episode here. (They review Sword in the Jungle Deep starting at the 13:35 mark.)
Our Online Community
The Keep Studios also fosters an online community via a Discord server and a Twitch channel. We love table top RPG’s, but that’s not all! Our company members and affiliates also enjoy playing and sharing various video games, including retro, indie, and mainstream hits. Naturally, we also stream some of our tabletop campaigns. You can visit our website to learn more about us, and to find links to Discord and Twitch. www.thekeepstudios.com
What will the Kickstarter funds be used for?
Simple: Artwork, printing of backer rewards, and writers for stretch goals. The adventure is written, layout is complete, and the artists are at the ready to complete the original illustrations.
Funds will be set aside to print all of the backer rewards. We plan to use DriveThruRPG's fulfillment services, meaning we can print our small-run books with lower overhead and ship them reliably all with less cost to you.
A sizeable allocation of funds is also necessary to pay our contracted artists and writers. We have a good working relationship with our artists and writers, and they have always astonished us with their results.
We’re big fans of Kickstarter both as consumers and publishers. Heck, some of our favorite projects such as Mutant Crawl Classics, Numenera and Strongholds and Followers were kick-started. Inspired by these examples. we have decided to follow in the footsteps of giants.
Can I use this for my level 1 party?
YES! We've made sure to include "Hooks for Established Parties" right in the book's introduction section.
What if I play D&D or another 5e SRD compatible game and not DCC?
One of our lower level stretch goals is to add in a supplement to make 5e SRD compatible versions of all the encounters. We've already written a free guide on using any DCC funnel (especially this one!) to transform character creation itself into an adventure within the 5e rules. Read about it here!
Why are you invoicing shipping separately?
Shipping is always tricky business when it comes to Kickstarter, and many projects have failed by not properly taking care of shipping expenses. Often, backers have a change of address before a project’s rewards are complete. In those situations, we wouldn’t want to overcharge a backer for shipping, or have to bill backers for small discrepancies in actual shipping costs. For small changes we would feel compelled to eat the cost, and small changes can add up to a lot on our end.
Kickstarter campaigns can elect to include collecting shipping funds, but did you know that counts towards your total pledge? This can artificially inflate goal completion, making it appear that we have more raw capital to work with than we really do. We could try to estimate shipping costs, and increase our goal amount accordingly, but an estimate is an estimate, and that means that it's much harder for us to give our backers a genuine view of what we really need to fund our rewards.
To avoid all this we're separating shipping funds entirely. We'll send you an email once your rewards are ready, so you can fill in your up to date shipping information and pay accurate shipping charges for your goods.
Risks and challenges
We’ve already published our first adventure book, and at this stage of development in our second adventure book, the risks are low. However when dealing with any kind of custom creation, setbacks can occur.
Printing and Shipping: As mentioned earlier, we plan to use DriveThruRPG’s fulfillment services. DrivethruRPG is a reliable service that serves thousands of publishers with an excellent track record. However DriveThruRPG is separate from ourselves, and so if they face delays for any reason, so would we. The total demand we place on them is also contingent on the amount of rewards we need to fulfill, including possible successful stretch goals. Though we’ve always had good results from DrivethruRPG, we cannot be sure how long a large print run would take, as we have yet to use them for backer reward fulfillment. For backup, we have established contact with a local print house. In this case, we would ship US orders from our home base, and we should also be able to ship to the EU via an agent in Portugal.
Artist Timelines: Our artists are trusted and reliable external contractors, which works well for us in that we only need to call on them when the other parts of our project are ready to integrate with the artwork. Naturally any contract work means we have to negotiate with a freelancer’s timeline. We have reasonable assurances that they will be able to complete their work, and we also have backup artists on the line just in case a personal emergency or some other interruption should occur. Any of these scenarios would not cause the project to fail, however, as we always pay upon receiving the artwork, so in this way no backer funds would be lost.
Long story short, our anticipated possible road bumps would be delays, not outright failures. In any event, we would keep our backers informed regularly through our “Updates” page.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)