Welcome to DolmenBarrow!

My new campaign, called DolmenBarrow, is a mashup of Barrowmaze (by Greg Gillespie) set in Dolmenwood (as presented in the Wormskin zine from Necrotic Gnome Productions). I might also slip in some Hill Cantons, Dwimmermount, and Operation Unfathomable.

To learn more about the campaign, click on the following links:

You can also download Welcome to Dolmenwood and the Dolmenwood Map for free.


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Thoughts on Barrowmaze (Part 2)

Last week I posted some of my thoughts on Barrowmaze, and it turns out that I still have a ton of notes jotted down about the game.

Today I’ll write about some of the ways in which I customized Barrowmaze for my own purposes, how I maintained the pace to ensure closure to the adventure, and some more thoughts about maps.

(By the way, the image at right is by Von Allen and is entitled “fleeing from Barrowmaze”. I put a printout of it on my referee screen to remind the players that not every encounter can be defeated.)

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Thoughts on Barrowmaze (Part 1)

Last month I wrapped up my DolmenBarrow campaign (see the adventure log). With the PDF for Greg Gillespie’s Caverns of Archaia being released today I’m finally posting some thoughts on Barrowmaze. I’ve had these in draft for a couple months, but now seems like an ideal time to publish them…

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The Black City (Campaign Idea)

Last year I really got into John Arendt’s Black City Project. John explains the Black City as follows:

The vision behind the project is to create a “weird horror” megadungeon, that blends the standard D&D tropes with aliens and elements of sci-fi fantasy, a touch of H.P. Lovecraft, and a heaping helping of Vikings.

I proposed running a Pits & Perils game set in the Black City, but the idea didn’t really get off the ground. So now I’m suggesting the ACKS Heroic Companion and Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu (BCK) instead…

The Black City would be loosely linked to my previous Hyperborean campaign – containing clues about the origin of they Hyperborean people – but is set on “Old Earth” around the year 1000 CE.

It would be low-magic compared to Astonishing ACKS; instead I’ll lean heavily on the new Alien Technology rules from BCK. Viking characters would be limited to ceremonial magic and I would encourage players to select warrior-types.

I’ve also got an idea of how to kick-start the campaign, which I’m not going to mention here (to avoid spoilers).

Hyperborea HR

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Renata’s Robbers


Last session the PCs came across a band of brigands in the Barrowmaze. It turns out that they were the remnants of Renata’s Robbers. The group had heard rumours about them earlier – that they were camped in the woods near the barrow mounds and were charging a “toll” for adventuring groups returning to Prigwort.

However, they have fallen on hard times since the Acolytes of Orcus consolidated their control over the Barrowmaze. Late one night – after some particularly drunken revelry – their camp was suddenly attacked by Orcus-worshipping Goatmen mounted on Night Goats. During the assault, Renata (their leader) and Violet (daughter of Lady Harrowmoor) were dragged screaming by the Goatmen into a barrow mound.

The surviving Robbers ventured into the dungeon in an attempt to rescue Renata and Violet. However, without leadership they have been struggling…

…At least until the PCs arrived. Parley ensued and the two groups decided to combine forces. Now the Robbers have regained their focus and are determined to rescue Renata.

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Fall of Atlantis (Campaign Idea)

KanahuFor the past few months I’ve been running a Dolmenwood/ Barrowmaze mashup using Labyrinth Lord and haven’t posted too much about ACKS. In the background, though, I’ve been reading the sneak peek pdfs of the ACKS Heroic Companion and Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu (BCK) and thinking about how I’m going to use it in my games.

I was originally considering converting my Astonishing ACKS campaign over to the Heroic Companion, but have decided against this. I think standard ACKS spellcasting works great in Hyperborea, with mighty Pyromancers and Xathoqquan Sorcerer-Priests brimming with magic power. More of a four-colour pulp comic feel.

I will adapt some of the material from the Heroic Companion and BCK when I restart Astonishing ACKS – particularly some of the non-magical character classes, Heroic rules, and Technology – but I’m planning on waiting until I get the final draft before doing too much with this.

What I have been fiddling with, though, is an ACKS mini-campaign called Fall of Atlantis using the Ceremonial Magic rules from the Heroic Companion and high technology from BCK. Set in antediluvian Earth, it would focus on the exploits of former slaves and barbarian foreigners on the doomed island of Atlantis in the final years before it sinks.

This campaign would be loosely connected to my Hyperborean game. In this era, the Old Hyperboreans still dwell on Earth at this point and have only recently begun to be corrupted by Xathoqqua. The human (and hybrid) Valusians have finally wrested control of their lands from their Ophidian overlords, but will soon fall too. And the Atlanteans – once greatest of all – have become decadent and corrupt, relying on oppression and slave labour to maintain their powerful empire.

I’ve also been reading the excellent Spears of the Dawn, an African-themed sandbox RPG from Kevin Crawford of Sine Nomine Publishing. Although I don’t think I’ll run a game set in Africa, I like the idea of it being home the most powerful human civilisation in this era. The “Ivory Kingdoms” are the only human domains that Atlantis treats as near-equals (Atlanteans view themselves as ‘above’ humanity, on par with the Hyperboreans and Ophidians).

So expect a few posts here outlining this new mini-campaign. If it still interests me after I wrap up Barrowmaze later this summer then I’ll give it a shot.

Hyperborea HR

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Equipment Quick-Start

In an attempt to speed up character creation, we’ll do randomized equipment selection. These tables are based Gavin Norman’s Dolmenwood House Rules.


Fighters (& subclasses) roll 1d6 twice and pick the best result; clerics (& subclasses) and non-humans roll 1d4; thieves (& subclasses) roll 1d4 but ignore shields; magic-users get no armour.

  1. Leather Armour (AC 7)
  2. Leather Armour + Shield (AC 6)
  3. Studded Leather (AC 6)
  4. Studded Leather + Shield (AC 5)
  5. Chainmail (AC 5)
  6. Chainmail + Shield (AC 4)

(Moss dwarfs get cork armour instead of leather, and pinecone armour instead studded.)


Fighters roll 1d12 twice; clerics roll 1d4 twice; thieves and non-humans roll 1d8 twice; magic-users get a dagger.

  1. Club (1d4 dmg)
  2. Quarterstaff (1d6 dmg, 2 hands)
  3. Mace (1d6 dmg)
  4. Sling + 20 Bullets (1d4 dmg)
  5. 3 Daggers (1d4 dmg)
  6. Hand Axe (1d6 dmg)
  7. Shortsword (1d6 dmg)
  8. Shortbow + 20 Arrows (1d6 dmg)
  9. Spear (1d6 dmg, or 1d8 dmg with 2 hands)
  10. Woodsman’s Axe (1d8 dmg, 2 hands)
  11. Longsword (1d8 dmg)
  12. Heavy Crossbow + 20 Quarrels (1d8 dmg)

(Moss dwarfs can swap metal weapons for a wooden cudgel [1d6 dmg].)

Class-Specific Equipment

  • Fighters who rolled crappy armour and weapons (referee’s discretion) get an extra piece of adventuring gear.
  • Clerics get a wooden holy symbol.
  • Thieves get thieves’ tools.
  • Magic-users get a spellbook with one spell selected by player plus 1d4 random spells.

General Adventuring Gear

All characters start play with a backpack, a tinderbox, 5 torches, 1d12gp, and 1d4 items rolled from the list below:

  1. Crowbar
  2. Hammer
  3. 10 iron spikes
  4. Sledgehammer
  5. 5 days’ rations
  6. Waterskin
  7. 50′ hempen rope
  8. Bedroll
  9. Lantern and 3 flasks of oil
  10. Ink, quill, and 5 sheets of parchment
  11. 10 sticks of chalk
  12. Small sack


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The Friar (Cleric Variant)

I’m adding the friar class as an option in my current campaign. It’s adapted from the Fantastic Heroes & Witchery RPG by Dominique Crouzet.

Friars are all sorts of wandering preachers and simple parish priests, whose religious ideal is to serve their communities in the name of their faith.

Friars are actually more common than clerics in Dolmenwood – and more popular among its inhabitants. While still servants of the One True God, many friars propitiate obscure saints or local petty gods as well. (Their loose interpretation of the faith and recognition of other deities does not seem to affect any of their class abilities.)

Game Rules:

As per Friar class from FH&W, with the following clarifications and adjustments:

  • Experience requirements, attack progression, and saving throws are as per cleric.
  • Bludgeoning weapons only, as per cleric.
  • Armour is restricted to studded leather (AC 6) or lighter; shields permitted.
  • For the Community Ear class ability, use a “Hear Noise” check (with chances as per thief of equal level).

Friars are appropriate as PCs in the DolmenBarrow campaign.


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