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A dungeon crawl zine made for new school tabletop RPGs, but with old school sensibilities.
A dungeon crawl zine made for new school tabletop RPGs, but with old school sensibilities.
663 backers pledged $11,383 to help bring this project to life.

About

The Tomb of Black Sand

$11,383

663

The creative team behind the ENnie award winning Hot Springs Island, invites you to explore The Tomb of Black Sand a (relatively) self-contained dungeon designed to be dropped into most ongoing fantasy campaign worlds.

A powerful lich seeks to transcend the mortal realms and explore the infinities beyond. Tapping into dark and primal magics he has grown a tomblike structure over an area in your world where corpses are abundant, such as an ancient battlefield, forgotten catacombs, or mass graves. Slowly, blight has spread from the tomb, twisting and contorting the land around it. 

In a small woodcutter's cottage nearby, three brothers tend to their ailing mother, and look for their younger sister, now missing for a week. But she is not the only one to have gone missing since the trees began to twist and crack.

Can the land be healed and the missing return?

The Tomb of Black Sand is shaping up to be about 32 pages. Monster stats are being worked on, and in our very early testing, it looks like the dungeon should be suitable for a party of characters (from the most popular modern fantasy RPG system) that are levels 3-5. 

A lich, in their lair is a supremely difficult encounter, but this lich is completely consumed by his lengthy and complex ritual of transcendence. If left alone he will likely ignore curious adventurers, trusting his minions and security measures to take care of any threat. Should lower level adventurers charge in like Galahad, they will undoubtedly be utterly destroyed, but more Odyssean low level adventurers can make it out with plenty of treasure, and perhaps even amicably resolve the situation.

In addition to being relatively self-contained, the dungeon has been designed to effectively "self-resolve". If The Tomb of Black Sand is placed in a campaign world it will begin having a noticeable (but not catastrophic) effect on its surroundings. Should players decide to ignore it, after a time, the lich will complete his ritual, leave the world, and the lands will begin to heal. Should this occur, we will be detailing how to run the tomb as a sort of "ghost town".


Here is our current, usable, but rough, map:

We love making zines! Before launching our first Kickstarter for Hot Springs Island, we created a number of zines to serve as a sort of proof of concept. Notably The Lapis Observatory

The Tomb of Black Sand will follow in the footsteps of the layout we used for Lapis and Hot Springs Island with a heavy focus on extreme usability at the table while running the game. 

Questing Beast did a great review of The Lapis Observatory over on YouTube where he flips through the whole zine. This should give you an idea of the physical setup and information design we'll be using for The Tomb of Black Sand.

There's also a fantastic review of Lapis by Bryce Lynch over on the Ten Foot Pole blog if you'd like another take on the type of content we produce.

Jacob and Donnie of the Swordfish Islands crew will be going up to Gen Con this year to run some games and show off Patrick Stuart's Silent Titans. To help offset the cost of getting to and staying at Gen Con, we'd planned to release a small zine in the late spring/early summer. We even had a small budget set aside to cover its printing costs. 

Then we saw that Kickstarter was running RPG Zine Quest and thought, maybe we can get some help to make the most awesome version of The Tomb of Black Sand possible! If the Kickstarter is successful and we hit our funding goal, we'll be able to bring on four amazing individuals to help push things to the next level.


1. Editing by the amazing Fiona Geist: editor of Silent Titans and one of the writers on Dead Planet, a module for the Mothership Space Horror RPG.


2. A hand lettered title by the exceptional Tim Hastings of MindkillerInk.


3. Maps by the one and only Karl Stjernberg


4. Cover art by the legendary Daniel R. Horne

If we end up exceeding our goal, the majority of those funds will be dedicated to getting Donnie and Jacob (and maybe even Gabriel) to Gen Con for 2019. But we do love stickers and will likely come up with a few fun surprises if the Kickstarter really takes off.

Risks and challenges

This is the first project Swordfish Islands has run that hasn't been just at the finish line, so there is a risk we could miss our August deadline. However we believe that risk is very small, and we will communicate constantly and transparently if any signs of delays begin to appear.

We are committed to finishing what we start and have already delivered one Kickstarter successfully (Hot Springs Island). Our second Kickstarter (Silent Titans) has not yet been delivered, but we did not launch this zine Kickstarter until the final files of Silent Titans were in the hands of the printer, and the check to pay the printer was in the mail!

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    The Tomb & The Observatory

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    The Toxic Lapis Tomb

    Receive a physical copy of The Tomb of Black Sand, The Lapis Observatory reissue, and Toxic Elven Smut, as well as PDFs of all three. (See Update #3). Shipping charged separately.

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Funding period

- (25 days)