Beneath the spires and stones, the canals and isles, the Catacombs breathe, inhaling life and exhaling danger... and the smell of treasure.
When the brave, greedy, desperate, or foolish venture beneath the stones and soft waves of Pentola they find themselves in a world made by Those Who Came Before, though shattered and marred by some ancient catastrophe which buckled the earth and loosed a seemingly endless flood of magical creatures and monsters into those halls of the dead.
So, what is this?
This single-sheet mini zine (zini, if you will) is an experiment in pushing the envelope for information density, layout, and gameable lore. It is written to be system agnostic, allowing you to take adventurers from any world and game into the catacombs described inside.
The inside spread describes how to procedurally generate dungeons on the fly or in advance complete with dozens of possible encounters and a back cover which is a quick reference for all the mechanics contained within.
What's the status?
The content and tables for the zine are already written and laid out, the only piece that remains is the art for the front cover and the spread.
Why a Kickstarter?
To make it possible to do a small, high quality download-and-print release run of this zini and prove out the format more broadly for other projects. If Beneath the Canals does well, it means we can make more content of this density and format and get it into people's hands sooner and more often.
Beneath the Canals is system agnostic and includes 4 tables with over 250 possible rooms, over a thousand possible demons you might encounter, and over 200 encounters, all in two A5 pages of content. The content and mechanics are designed to be hackable and malleable, leaning into making life as an OSR referee easier, not harder. The physical zine is a single folded piece of A4, giving you an A5 cover, two A5 pages inside for the content spread, and an A5 backcover which includes the quick reference tables.
We are working with a local printer for a print-run of the zinis!
- ✔ $250: Stat Blocks - I'll write up and format stat blocks compatible with B/X, Pathfinder, and 5e for the weird Pentolan creatures you might find in the Catacombs.
- ✔ $300: Digital Dungeons - Digital Tables and Randomizers for Beneath the Canals and all stretch goals by Saker Tarsos.
- ✔ $500 Smoldering Gardens of Bone - A dungeonzini with catacomb map and artwork by Abigail LaLonde utilizing Beneath the Canals for its initial layout and then expanded upon, featuring an alchemical garden in the tombs and tunnels of the catacombs!
- ✔ $750 Cadavers in the Catacombs - Additional dungeonzini detailing corpses and encounters you might discover while exploring the catacombs with art and content by Dungeons & Possums.
- ✔ $1000 Afraid of the Water - Additional dungeonzini with catacomb map by Foot of the Mountain Adventures and art by Michelle Smallwood utilizing Beneath the Canals for its initial layout and then expanded upon.
- ✔ $1250 Breathing Stone - Additional dungeonzini written by Zedeck Siew and illustrated by Jay Labelle featuring a living one-page dungeon set in the Pentolan Catacombs.
- ✔ $1500 The Fallen Eidolon - Additional dungeonzini with written by Jose Kercado and art by Jay Labelle utilizing Beneath the Canals for its initial layout and then expanded upon.
- ✔ $1750: Bones and Precious Stones- Additional zini with catacomb map and artwork by Spaghetti Quester utilizing Beneath the Canals for its initial layout and then expanded upon.
- ✔ $2000 Reliquaries & Ossuaries- Fiona Maeve Geist has agreed to delve into the dark and deliver a zini for developing the reliquaries of lost, forgotten and forbidden saints, resting places of chthonic holy relics and fabulous and perverse structures built from countless bones. The incredible Lauren Bryce will be illustrating this one!
- ✔ $2300 Fatal Fungi- a toolzini, this one written by Donn Stroud and illustrated by Matthew Cartwright, exploring all of the terrible and intriguing fungi and molds in the Pentolan catacombs, their dangers and uses, and the strange things they do creatures in the dark halls of the dead.
- ✔ $3000 P R I N T R U N - we've crunched the numbers and if we hit this mark we'll be set up for a print run for up to 200 copies - 150 for backers at the new Bonegolem level as well as all Shard backers! (We can't edit the pledge level but they get paper copies anyway). Note that this will net you a copy of Beneath the Canals AND every other zini we unlock during this campaign.
- ✔ $3300 Kofun: Buried Across the Sea - A toolzini, written by Takuma Okada and illustrated by Kai, adding new options for catacomb rooms and structures, items and enchantments.
- ✔ $3600: Craft and Violence - A toolzini, written by Mabel Harper, detailing the guerrilla artists and criminal underworld that operates in the Undercity, their factions and their magic.
- ✔ $3900: Memories Entombed - A toolzini, written by Skylar Wall, for exploring the customs of the people who made the catacombs and the things they left behind, with tools and guidance for generating practices and meaningful artifacts at the table.
- ✔ $4200: Song of Destruction - A song of destruction rings within the catacombs of Pentola and a trio of researchers from Tikor have arrived to find its source. A special Swordsfall/Pentola crossover collaboration dungeonzini written by Brandon Dixon!
- ✔ $4500: The Black Market - A toolzini. written and illustrated by the Best Left Buried team, detailing underground cells of shady merchants that live along the canals of Pentola. Inside are the tools to generate a group of merchants and their suspicious, often illegal wares.
Jay Labelle is a Canadian artist and illustrator that has been bringing life to the fantastical and macabre for over 15 years. They are currently looking forward to a themed sketchbook release later this year focusing on canids in European mythology and are co-illustrating a collection of Canadian folklore tales due out in the summer of 2020.
Some of their work includes:
Michael T Lombardi has been writing and playing tabletop games and supplements for the better part of a decade when he's not busy writing and talking topics related to his IT day job. He's currently working on Pentola: City of Shards, a high-stakes adventure roleplaying game set in the city above the catacombs this project is exploring.
Stretch Goal Contributors
- Saker Tarsos makes modules and helpful web tools for OSR games. He also occasionally writes. You can find his work on his blog.
- Abigail LaLonde started playing RPGs back in '99 and has been drawing for as long as she can remember. She has become fascinated by the Old School/DIY movement and has open commissions for stippling and maps. You can find her work on her Patreon and at ArtStation.
- Dungeon & Possums is a prolific blogger, interviewer, reviewer, and content generator in the OSR. You can find him on his blog and on Twitter
- Pat Eyler (AKA Foot of the Mountain Adventures) is a nerd just coming back to gaming. He draws maps, DMs games, and blogs. You can find his work on his blog and Patreon.
- Michelle Smallwood is a free-lance TTRPG artist who has been working on her traditional and digital style for 20 years. She is heavily influenced by her love of fantasy, old-school TTRPG products, and doom metal. You can find her work in her portfolio and on DeviantArt.
- Zedeck Siew is based in Port Dickson, Malaysia, and has been a journalist, essayist, editor, fiction writer, translator, and game designer. With artist Mun Kao, he is currently creating fantasy RPG zines inspired by the mythistory and material cultures of Southeast Asia, collectively titled: "A Thousand Thousand Islands". You can also find his work on his blog.
- Jose Kercado is a passionate YouTuber, Dungeon Master, and game designer. You can find his work on YouTube and Patreon.
- Spaghetti Quester is an Italian Dungeon Keeper and Pasta Eater.He started playing D&D in the '90s and never managed to stop. Currently, he collaborates as an illustrator with several indie game designers, maintaining an aesthetic linked to the sacred monsters of the fantasy culture of the late twentieth century. You can find his portfolio on instagram.
- Fiona Maeve Geist is an additional content writer for Mothership: Dead Planet and editor of Silent Titans.
- Donn Stroud is the cowriter of Mothership: Dead Planet, A Pound of Flesh, and writer and publisher of Lesser Key to the Celestial Legion as Psychoda Press. He was also cohost and producer of Drink Spin Run: the RPG Talkshow.
- Matthew Cartwright is a concept artist and illustrator who loves RPGs. He draws and paints in a range of styles from dark and Macabre to animated and colorful. You can find his work on his Instagram and Artstation.
- Takuma Okada is a game designer and musician. Looking for authentic portrayals of Japanese people in tabletop games, they found none, and decided to write their own. Her music can be found on soundcloud and her games can be found on itch.
- Kai is a Los Angeles based Illustrator and VisDev Artist attending Cal State Long Beach. They are current working towards their Illustration BFA and specialize in ink, digital, and watercolor. They have a passion for history, mythology, and art. When they're not drawing they love to play ttrpgs, cook, watch movies, and read. You can find more of their work on their tumblr.
- Mabel Harper is a trans Filipina musician, writer, game designer, and digital artist. When she's not creating the stuff of nightmares, she's making queer pop music as Don't do it, Neil. Or she might just be vegging out on her bed and watching anime with her cats.
- Skylar Wall is a Dakota freelance game designer, editor, and sensitivity reader. You can find them as well as information on their own gaming projects on their Twitter
- Brandon Dixon, aka Tikal, is the author of the Afropunk Sci-Fantasy setting and TTRPG Swordsfall. He's a philosophy major and lifelong omni-nerd who aims to bring his vision to tabletop and novel worlds alike. While Swordsfall is its own universe and system, denizens of Tikor find a way to show up in the most unexpected of places. You can join the project and get updates via Patreon.
- T'umo Mere is the Lead Artist for Swordsfall. Hailing from Botswana, they help bring their local knowledge to Swordsfall and incorporate a modern African style through their art and knowledge. You can find their work on Instagram.
- Zachary Cox and Ben Brown make roleplaying games with SoulMuppet Publishing. The pair are best known for their work on Best Left Buried, an atmospheric fantasy-horror RPG where the monsters are scary and the characters are insane. Zach does the writing and layout, Ben does the art.
Risks and challenges
The writing and layout for Beneath the Canals is completed and the art is ongoing - the project is 90% complete and I do not expect any real risk - even with the stretch goals there will be no delay of the initial PDF release.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)