DW1 Lair of the Unknown

Hey, I think it’s time to release a new book. This time I wrote an adventure module for Dungeon World. Here’s the pitch:

All the dungeons have been looted, all the monsters have been slain, and this land is free from the oppression of mad sorcerers and marauding armies. There is no longer any need for adventurers like you, and not a single opportunity for you to get rich left in these parts… or is there? Deep in the Haunted Forest you stand, directly in front of the lost stronghold of Fearsome Forbus and the Unknown Wizard—two of the greatest dungeon raiders that ever lived. Will you leave laden down with all their precious loot? Or will you uncover horrors this land thought dead and buried, never to return?

See a 17-page PREVIEW of the book HERE.

Lair of the Unknown is an introductory adventure module for the Dungeon World fantasy role-playing game. Inside you will find:

  • A complete dungeon, full of traps and horrors, ready for you to explore.
  • New monsters, characters, and magical items to vex or aid the PCs.
  • Dungeon fronts—dangers that lie dormant and only activate when the PCs discover them.
  • Customized starting procedures and advice about asking the players questions that contribute to the setting.
  • Three new compendium classes and a new base class: the Dungeoneer.
  • Fantastic art by Nate Marcel and others.

It’s 110 pages, 6×9 in print, 5.5×8.5 in pdf. As far as adventure modules go, it’s not revolutionary or anything, it’s just tailored to Dungeon World, and I believe it will be an asset to both experienced GMs and novices. So, for example:

  • If you are uneasy about improvising everything, this module provides you with a fully-stocked dungeon of no small size. This being Dungeon World, there’s also fronts and dangers. Some of the monsters wait around in rooms underground, but only until the PCs find them—then they are free!
  • If you want your players to contribute more but don’t know what to ask them, this module gives you customized lists of questions. Use the answers they give you to add new elements to the adventure that will actually mean something in the context of the dungeon and the town nearby. These setup procedures are written to help you get the PCs and the setting to mesh together, so the world makes sense to everyone at the table, while still preserving that sense of going into the unknown to confront dangerous things.
  • If you’re worried that my monsters won’t be bizarre or exciting enough for your game, there is also a section with procedures to create new monsters that will surprise your players.

And of course, this isn’t a linear plot—there’s no story here. There’s lots of little stories, characters, agendas, secrets, and dangers, which all add up to an overpopulated dungeon environment, bursting at the seams with opportunities for adventure. You can leave out or add as much as you want, drop pieces here and there into other games, or use this module as the starting point for a longer campaign.

You can buy Lair of the Unknown in print from Lulu, for US$15. B&W, softcover, cream-coloured pages, full-bleed.

You can buy both the print and pdf from DriveThruRPG. The pdf is US$7, print is US$15. B&W, softcover, white pages, not full-bleed.

8 Comments to “DW1 Lair of the Unknown”

  1. Interesting take with the “finished” dungeons…

  2. Hi Johnstone,

    Given the success of Dungeon Planet, is the text of this work under CC Attribution-ShareAlike too?


  3. Hi Chris,

    The custom rules section, with the Dungeoneer and the compendium classes, is cc-by-sa.
    The majority of the text, like the dungeon room descriptions, the history of the location, and the monster descriptions (which are specific to the adventure location) are not under cc license.

    I submitted slightly different versions of the monsters and magic items to Grim Portents and those are cc-by-sa (and don’t have features that tie them to this dungeon specifically). Most of the rest is just descriptive text that I feel is unique to this particular adventure — although I did release the entire text of RK1: Knives in the Dark as cc-by-sa so I could see how I feel about both approaches.

    I feel like it would be kind of weird for other people to take really specific elements from the this adventure and reproduce them elsewhere, whereas if they borrow ideas and use their own words, there’s no copyright issue to begin with (as opposed to Dungeoneer moves, which people definitely should be able to steal). But I dunno! I guess it will depend on what pieces people want to borrow.

    • Thanks for the detailed reply, Johnstone. By the time you wrote this, I’d actually caved to curiosity and bought DW1 anyway! But I hadn’t heard of RK1 and will buy that now.

      I’d be interested to see the outcome of the two different approaches you’ve tried here for RK1 and DW1. Hopefully if RK1 goes alright, you’ll consider re-licensing DW1 more liberally. Thanks also for the submission to Grim Portents; I’ve had that on the backburner because of work commitments, but I should knuckle down and get issue 2 released.

      I can think of reasons why people would want to borrow specific elements from the adventure. For example, they may want to convert it to D&D or Fate. I’m working on a collaborative fantasy setting at the moment (The Shrouded Lands: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?318447-Let%92s-Make-a-Hexcrawl-Setting) and we’ve sometimes tied dungeons into the campaign setting by borrowing quite specific elements.

      But of course it’s your call – thanks for explaining your thinking to me.


  4. Hey Johnstone, got a character sheet for the Dungeoneer kicking about somewhere?

  5. Oh snap! Thanks mate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: