Book of the Underworld
We're nearly finished developing Gareth Ryder Hanrahan's Book of the Underworld. John-Matthew DeFoggi finished his development pass and I'm midway through my own devpass. Today I'm designing some new fungaloids and troglodytes. I think the book will be headed to the editor by the middle of December, and we have more art to commission as it's being edited. Artists' timelines will influence the publication date, but my guess is that editing and art will be wrapped up close to the same time. Pelgrane likes to put books on pre-order when editing is complete, so look for the pre-order sometime early next year.
If you missed the origin story for the cover of the book, painted by Lee Moyer using some pencils from Rich Longmore, look here.
Gar's work is endlessly inventive. I laughed out loud several times reading through the book and what Gareth doesn't know yet is that other people are looking to follow up his book by writing a full adventure based on something he tossed off in a couple paragraphs. The except that follows is not that specific inspirational paragraph, but it is another chunk that got me thinking. It's the first of the thirteen Secret Ways into the Underworld.
1. The Unraveled Dungeon: A few feet to the left, and this living dungeon might have been one of the infamous horrors of the age, a fiendish labyrinth of monsters and traps sprawling out beneath the skin of the world. Unfortunately for the dungeon, something snagged it in the depths of the underworld as it climbed towards the surface. As it rose, the dungeon unraveled, leaving a thread of corridors and chambers behind it, a long linear path stretching down behind it. When it finally broke through to the surface, there was almost nothing left of it—it now looks like a small dungeon of a few rooms, only one door leads to stairs that goes down and down and down forever . . . .
We don't have the cover art for Cal Moore's new adventure yet, but given that Cal turned over the manuscript yesterday and John-Matthew started development today, I'll be working on the cover art assignment this weekend.
Shards of the Broken Sky is the story of how the Archmage fumbles protecting his secrets. Elven Towers is the story of how the Elf Queen tries to avoid a similar disaster. The campaign-tier adventure's usual assumption is that the PCs are more or less on the Queen's side, but there are options for working against her.
Depending on how your campaign paces itself, there's material for at least 1.5 or two levels of play, and with a bit more attention paid to the Court of Stars (possibly borrowing ideas from Robin D. Law's writing in 13 True Ways), the adventure easily handles three levels of play, all of champion-tier.
Crown of Axis
The impetus for this experiment is that The Strangling Sea, a first-level adventure, is finally out of print. Crown of Axis is an entirely different approach to a first-level adventure. Instead of being published as a print-product, it's going to appear as PDF-only. We gave Wade Rockett free rein to create an introductory adventure and he's chosen to take us into the arenas of the capital city. Further plot details would count as spoilers, so let's just leave it at this: Crown of Axis isn't just a reference to the Emperor, it's also the name of the venerable-but-fallen-on-hard-times arena that's the main setting for the adventure. It's in this list of first-wave products because Wade will finish the first draft quite soon and the fact that's it's PDF-only means it may zip past other products into publication.