A couple years ago, I began a journey. It started at my dining-room table with some good friends, a bag of polyhedral dice, and a bottle of Mountain Dew. I created a fantasy adventure campaign that centered around a mysterious swamp dotted with barrow mounds and standing stones. A vast dungeon existed beneath the mounds. It teemed with undead and burial crypts filled with precious treasures. We had a lot of fun and I wondered if other people might be interested in Barrowmaze.
Not really knowing much about PDF publishing, I brought my home-game notes together and that became the basis of Barrowmaze I (published under the Open Gaming License and compatible with Labyrinth Lord and other classic fantasy role-playing games). However, there was still another half of the map yet to stock, so I ran a successful campaign for Barrowmaze II on Indiegogo that included former TSR artist Jim Holloway and brought another artist, the awesome Trevor Hammond, out of retirement. Because I love old school RPG art and gamer swag, I ran another successful campaign on Indiegogo to create some fun Barrowmaze Tees with the tag line "Get Rich or Die Tryin" which pretty much sums up the experience of the dungeon :)
Through the support of the old school gaming community, Barrrowmaze I was listed in the Top 10 on RPGnow for months and finished in Second Place for the prestigious Three Castles Game Award for RPG Design at the North Texas RPGcon last June.
Although Barrowmaze has my name on the cover, I view the adventure as a communal expression -- it speaks to the type of game we want to play, the style of game we want to forward, and that the roots of our hobby are important and worth preserving for future gamers.
The Plan: Barrowmaze Complete
Barrowmaze I and II need to be combined into one definitive volume: Barrowmaze Complete. This new book will include all the material from the two previous books plus the new material outlined below under New Material.
New to Barrowmaze?
If you are completely new to Barrowmaze it includes:
-Over 200 pages of material (combined).
-Over 600+ dungeon rooms.
-A vast field of 60 barrow mounds above the dungeon.
-A dedicated monster section each with individual illustrations.
-Sections for new magic items and spells.
-A custom character sheet.
-A random crypt generator and more.
-Literally years of gaming.
In addition to combining the two books, this campaign will facilitate the introduction of 1) New Content, 2) New Art, 3) New Professional Layout and Cover Design.
1. New Content:
The village of Helix, the starting point for the campaign, will be detailed in full to provide a threshold to the adventure. The focus will be on NPCs to create role-playing opportunities to balance the emphasis on dungeon crawling. Locations like The Brazen Strumpet Tavern (with a random patron generator), as well as the Shrine of St. Ygg (and many others), will be laid out. Numerous sub-plots will be added for the PCs to pursue both in town and to piece together information gleaned from Barrowmaze. The town will include a map of the various locations. My goal is to bring Helix to life through interesting NPCs (all with illustrations) and create a vibrant and intriguing gaming environment.
Additional Barrow Mounds (especially mid-level) will be added, as well as dungeon rooms, map additions, rumours, rival adventuring parties, monsters, magic items, and spells. There will also be further revisions to the plot line surrounding the Pit of Chaos and role-playing opportunities in the dungeon.
Although I can encapsulate everything into a concise paragraph or two, the above constitutes a substantive amount of work.
2. New Art:
I am thrilled to announce that Erol Otus will illustrate the colour cover and the frontispiece of Barrowmaze Complete. I must admit, I am very excited about Erol's involvement. He is my favourite TSR artist and think his otherworldly oeuvre fits Barrowmaze perfectly. I had the opportunity to meet Erol at the NTRPGcon last June and he was keen to take part in this project.
I am also very excited to announce that Timothy Truman, another Ex-TSR artist from the early days of the hobby, will provide new interior illustrations including a full page illustration of Barrowmaze II baddie Lord Varghoulis! This is an exciting development for the OSR, as I have yet to see Tim's work return in the context of the old school movement.
In addition, Cory Hamel, Stefan Poag, Zhu Bajie, and others will all return to provide new illustrations.
As you may already know, I am absolutely committed to providing the best classic fantasy art possible for this project. Barrowmaze will celebrate the art of classic fantasy role-playing games.
3. New Professional Layout and Cover Design:
Cory Hamel, the Barrowmaze II cartographer and artist, is a professional graphic designer for a firm in Vancouver. Cory will facilitate the layout and create the new cover design. The new layout will include header illustrations and commentary by me in the outside margins to help facilitate play for referees.
What are the Official Barrowmaze Miniatures by Otherworld?
Alongside the Barrowmaze Complete book, this project includes the creation of a new Boxed Set of Barrowmaze monsters developed in concert with Richard Scott of Otherworld Miniatures (Richard has also run a successful campaign on Indiegogo).The Barrowmaze boxed set will be modeled after the sets of Dungeon Adventurers currently available on the Otherworld Website and include art by Victor Corbella.
This set will include 16 (28mm) pewter miniatures. These miniatures will include both conversions of Otherworld figures by Dave Soderquist and new sculpts by Andrew May.
The work on these new miniatures began in late November. We are well underway already! The 16 miniatures include:
2 Tomb Robbers
2 Sapphire Skeletons
2 Fossil Skeletons
2 Juju Zombies
2 Sons of Gaxx
1 Ravenous Zombie
1 Crypt Thing
1 Crypt Knight
1 Mummy Lord
1 Barrow Harpy
1 Barrow Guardian (Statue pose with plinth. Shield for conversion to Greater Barrow Guardian. Sculpted by Andrew May)
Miniature Stretch Goals:
For each $5,000 in funding an additional miniature will be added to Levels 4 and above!
5k: Barrow Guardian (Attacking pose. Shield for conversion to Greater Barrow Guardian) [CHECK!]
10k: Coffer Corpses (2) [CHECK!]
15k: Barrow Wight "Rendar Serouc" [CHECK!]
20k: Caryatid Column (at least 1, possibly 2)
25k: Margoyle "Zygstral"
30k: Barrow Harpy "Vultrix"
35k: Death Knight "Lord Varghoulis"
40k: Necrolyte of Nergal
45k: Multi-Part Mongrelmen (at least 2, possibly 3)
I would also like to hear from you in the comments! What do you think would make an awesome miniature for Barrowmaze?
Shipping for this campaign will take place in two phases: the books and the miniatures. The books will be mailed directly from Lightning Source for the US, Canada, and the UK. This should cut down on international shipping charges (I'm based in Canada). I will post all miniatures for the United States and Canada, and Richard Scott will post all UK orders. This will mean faster delivery for everyone.
If you live in the EU just add $10 to your total pledge.
If you live in New Zealand or Australia contact me with your shipping information and I will get back to you.
Bonus for Barrowmaze II Backers:
I think it is important to support the people who helped make the Barrowmaze II campaign a success. This project simply wouldn't be at this point without you. So, if you contributed to the Barrowmaze II campaign (at any level), and you pledge to the Barrowmaze Complete campaign at Level 4 -- I will throw in 2 free miniatures. This is just a small gesture on my part to acknowledge you and your continued support of Barrowmaze. I do appreciate it.
(When) The End is Near!: Add-Ons
After the campaign comes to a close, select miniatures will be available to backers at Level 3 and above as individual add-ons. I realize there are third parties out there that manage this sort of thing, but I'd much rather keep it simple and facilitate this myself. I personally packaged and shipped over 100 boxes for the Barrowmaze II campaign - not one went missing and all were packed correctly. I will make more detail available later in the campaign.
As noted above, I have completed two successful Barrowmaze campaigns on Indiegogo. I listed the end of December of 2014 as the target date for completion of this project. However, a project like this one includes numerous people and a number of moving parts that add to its complexity and could possibly push the project into early January. Given the good start on the campaign already, I'm confident in the timely completion of Barrowmaze Complete but need to acknowledge the obvious challenges.
About the Author:
I am a Professor of Popular Culture at Brock University in Ontario, Canada. I teach courses on both digital and tabletop role-playing games in both historical and contemporary perspective. I have published in leading academic journals as well as a research monograph with the University of British Columbia Press. Role-playing games have taught me a great deal, I want to create and give back.
If you need to contact me please use this email address:
barrowmazecomplete AT gmail DOT com
Barrowmaze Complete Teaser Trailer by Ari Binus:
Ari Binus is a professional children's book illustrator, animator/director, and digital artist based in the Boston area. His interest in art came from the iconic red and blue boxed sets. Ari has long been interested in old school role-playing and, for almost as long, has been recovering from a certain fantasy adventure cartoon being inexplicably yanked off the air. He finds making art to be his best medicine. You can find Ari at www.aribinus.com