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Dolmenwood is mushroom-infested Old School Essentials by way of British Isles folklore

Spore me a pint, adventurer.

Image credit: Necrotic Gnome/Exalted Funeral

A new interpretation of Old School Essentials fashions the old-school inspired RPG system onto a world suffused with gloomy folklore and a whole mess of mushrooms. Light, deadly and infested with fungi, Dolmenwood treats its world with a mixture of sombre reverence and bedtime ghost story whimsy.

The joint creation between OSE creator Necrotic Gnome and publisher Exalted Funeral, Dolmenwood has taken to Kickstarter to crowdfund a trio of sourcebooks. The world is heavily inspired by the traditional folklore of the British Isles and portrays pockets of medieval civilisation surrounded by a deep, lush wilderness chockablock with mushrooms, forgotten ruins, barrow mounds and other wondrous mysteries that can - and will - imperil anyone who wanders in unprepared.

If you’re unfamiliar with the OSE system, it's one of the more popular RPG systems in the old school revival (or renaissance, depending on who you ask) tradition that takes plenty of cues from the intentionally difficult early days of Dungeons & Dragons. Characters comprise the six classic stats, adventures often involve navigating deadly traps and deadlier combat encounters, and player knowledge and teamwork are paramount to survival. Players will primarily use two dice and aim to roll over a target number for all contests - attacks and saves use a 20-sided die, while skills and abilities rely on a d6, instead.

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All of the information needed to play Dolmenwood is split amongst three core books, much like Old School Essentials. The Player’s Book covers character building and mechanics throughout its 192 pages, detailing the six Kindred - goat people called Breggles, Elves, Grimalkin, cat-fairies, “bat-faced” woodgrues, mushroom people called Mosslings and humdrum humans. Players can choose amongst nine classes: cleric, enchanter, fighter, friar, hunter, knight, magician, minstrel and thief. Depending on which class and kindred chosen, magic will function a bit differently in the fiction and mechanics. Holy rites and arcane spellcraft fit alongside the eerie glamors of the elves and mosslings’ nature-borne weavings.

The chunkiest of the three is the Campaign Book, which contains in its 460+ pages all the rules that a referee needs to portray the world to a group of adventurers. It also delves into the cultures and societies of Dolmenwood through the seven major factions. Some of these function as you would expect from a medieval fantasy setting but also include covens of wood witches, a Chaos-godling named Atanuwë and the Cold Prince of the fairies.

Referees can make good use of the 200 locations, 280 different NPCs and 250 rumours listed in tables for worldbuilding purposes. There will also be a staring adventure designed to introduce players to the world of Dolmenwood and its cast of movers and shakers.

Image credit: Necrotic Gnome/Exalted Funeral

The third book is, as you might have guessed, a folio of foes and enemies appropriately called The Monster Book. At 128 pages, the slimmest volume provides 87 entries complete with illustrations and encounter seeds that help guide how a referee might inject them into an ongoing campaign. There’s also statblocks for 48 mundane animals, nine flavours of human and 27 generic NPC roles.

If you’re looking for a bit more help crafting a homebrew experience, the Monster Book also contains a generator that spits out a rival party of NPC adventurers. Dolmenwood is a land of mystery and hidden riches - the players are far from the only enterprising sorts delving into its uncharted shadows. Three hundred adventure hooks in the form of local folkloric rumours make spurring a group toward action and excitement easy and diegetic.

The Kickstarter campaign for Dolmenwood runs through September 8th and has already cracked the $1 million dollar mark on its way to producing its three physical books that are currently expected to deliver in September of next year. There are also digital versions of everything - books and adventures - that will be available to backers in March.

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