Today I’m pleased to announce the release of my second tabletop roleplaying book, Downcrawl, a tool for gamemasters that helps them tell procedural stories in a weird, endless underground wilderness.
Compatible with any fantasy roleplaying system, Downcrawl’s setting is a place called the Deep, Deep Down, an underground empire so far from the surface that the sun and sky are only legends, and so vast that no bounds can be placed on its dimensions or contents.
Downcrawl’s title references the “hexcrawl” style of exploration-centered roleplaying, which often leans on randomly generated content to let players freely explore without the gamemaster needing to flesh out every square inch of the map in advance. Downcrawl also makes heavy use of random generation to support player-driven storytelling, but puts the focus less on combat and treasure, instead creating stories about strange creatures with curious motivations; unexpected challenges that could be either dangerous or profitable, depending on how they’re approached; and exploring wondrous places with surprising features and strange inhabitants.
Some more features:
- Roll dice to generate weird, story-rich Volumes for players to explore, or grab some pre-generated ones, like Bone Falls, a vertical ossuary where no one can stay for long, or Deepness Bastion, where decadent knights guard a long-neglected portal to evil.
- Each volume is home to new intelligent creatures: as in a certain galaxy far, far away, there’s always a strange new someone at the next cantina. The book also helps you generate these curious Folk, and includes pre-made examples like The Chitter, creepy but polite insectoid constructs, or the Lime Lillen, delicate creatures who guide the painfully slow formation of stalactite art.
- A full Journey system for underground expeditions
- Rules put the focus of rolls on Success or Complications, rather than Success or Failure
- Learn to forage for fungi and enjoy their many curious effects, or seek out a Fungal Druggist to get a more potent variety, with only a small chance of all-consuming addiction
- Tips on running a campaign in an infinite world where languages, creatures, money, and maps are always changing
Downcrawl is available now in two versions:
- The premium experience is a 60-page softcover book with elegant typesetting and beautiful black-and-white illustrations (taken from old books about caves and curious places), available from DriveThruRPG for $15 in print or $5 as a PDF.
- I’m also releasing a simpler free HTML version: this doesn’t have the illustrations or the pre-made creatures, places, and examples, but has most of the other textual content of the book in a hyperlinked format for easy cross-referencing.
Both versions are available now, and there’s also some player handouts too, while you’re at it.
And finally: my last tabletop roleplaying game, Archives of the Sky, is also still available — and recently won an ENnie! So whether you’re looking to explore the stars or burrow deep underground to get away from them, I got you covered.
Enjoy Downcrawl, and never stop exploring!