It’s hard to believe over two years passed since Kobold Press launched Warlock, a Patreon-fueled project in the form of a booklet containing new maps, monsters, character options and more for Fifth Edition. Like it says on the tin, the most ambitious goal for Warlock is a yearly publication of the Warlock Grimoire, a hardcover collection of the entire year’s booklets plus more monsters, dark lore, secret encounters and Deep Magic. And now Warlock Grimoire exists! I received my copy in the mail and while a wealth of cool content waits within the nearly 300-page pocket-sized edition, my favorite part is the introduction. Why? Because before I interviewed Kobold Press head honcho Wolfgang Baur, someone advised me not to call Warlock a zine, but here in the intro to Warlock Grimoire, Wolfgang himself dubs the monthly booklets zines. Vindication!
Warlock Grimoire not just for Midgard!
Every month, Kobold Press Patreon supporters receive a copy of Warlock, a roughly 30 page booklet with new locations and lore, plus new spells, monsters, character options and more. Warlock Grimoire presents the content from the first 10 issues and adds to it with an entirely new issue’s worth of material from the Midgard setting. Of course, you can incorporate any of the content into your own games no matter what campaign setting you play in, and you might even get inspired to start worldbuilding your own.
Warlock Grimoire curates the content and organizes it thematically. First up is Lore and Storytelling, then Adventure and Dungeoneering, Monsters, Magic, NPCs and lastly Player. If I have a criticism of the book, the organization is it. The table of contents doesn’t indicate where these sections begin, making it difficult to navigate the book. And from a broader perspective, the sections often overlap. There’s magic items in the Player section, adventures and creatures in Lore and Storytelling and so forth. To be fair, Kobold Press makes use of sidebars here and there for outlier material and it’s not unusual to include a new monster along with an adventure featuring it. I suspect the content from individual Warlock issues remains together, impacting organization and layout, but overall this makes the book clunky and challenging to use as a resource.
Looking past this, the material itself within the Warlock Grimoire provides the right mix for me as a Game Master. I love drag-and-drop style content like this for several reasons. Worldbuilding is a continuous process, so each time players in my games go on a quest or explore further from the small coastal village where they begin their adventures means a little more of the world comes into definition. Books like Warlock Grimoire represent the perfect sort of resource for this sort of thing.
Here’s a few of the standouts for me inside Warlock Grimoire along with some thoughts on how to implement them in your games.
Folkways of the Ironcrags. The very first entry customs and culture of dwarves from the Ironcrag Mountains in Midgard. Transplant this to any campaign setting and not only do you have a rich dwarven culture, but players can engage with and learn about it instead of giving them an exposition dump. You don’t need to attach it to dwarves at all, either. Anyplace in your world might observe these customs, or take a single one and make it a local festival. Any one of these might inspire an adventure too.
The Forbidden Mountains of Beldestan. I recognize this from Book of Lairs! Getting this expanded info about the area satisfies my longtime interest. There’s a lot of evocative material here plus a cool map of the region, which really helps illustrate the extraordinary Stairs of Beldestan.
Into the Dragon Empire: Marea and the Islands. The adventure hooks and creature are nice but what jumps out at me are the new weapons and armor. Adding one little extra to existing 5th Edition equipment creates a very unique scenario. We’ve done this with our own content when we made new weapons crafted with monster parts, with a new weapon property, and players love it. It’s one thing to wield a greatsword, and quite another when it’s made from a remorhaz spine! Here the new items are made of silk and coins, not only a fantastic visual but says something about the culture they come from, and that’s great design in my book.
City of Blue Blocks. My favorite piece of content from Warlock! A bizarre city build among huge alien structures of translucent blue stone is exactly the kind of weird stuff I love dropping in my games. Anytime I can present something so unusual to players helps pull them into the world. Leaning into fantastical elements like this gets my imagination working, and while I’ll almost certainly change the details surrounding these colossal blue stone blocks it’s awesome to have such fertile ground to start with.
The Silent Council. Thieves’ guilds remain a staple of fantasy cities, and organizations help make a campaign setting feel more real to me. While this section isn’t very long, it’s a cool overview of this particular guild’s organization, members and methods along with some tips for incorporating the Silent Council into your games.
Thick as Thieves. Random tables! And even better — three random tables linked to each other! Rolling on these three tables helps you create a gang of rogues, their leader and motivations. I love this sort of stuff and this page is 100% bookmarked in my copy of Warlock Grimoire. I wanna roll on these tables again right now. So let’s do that and see what we end up with. Leader: The outrageously charming merchant Aquim all-Asfar, who wanders the lands procuring the unique and lovely for his client friends. Motivation: Spread anarchy to bring down the present rulers with a view to removing their guards from keeps onto the streets, thus weakening their defense and ultimately robbing a huge castle. Gang: A group who operate disguised as beggars and tramps to gain confidence and information from the lower classes, spreading hope among them by minor acts of rebellion to disguise their true intentions. Yeah, this is already giving me lots of ideas…
The Wondrous Women of Perunalia. This was written by Lysa Chen, who also created an encounter for our Out of the Box book. I enjoy her writing very much and this is no exception. Essentially a collection of nine new creatures, nevertheless the design here tells a story, which is something I don’t think I’ve seen before. Ranging from Challenge 2 to 26, along with the introductory text, I feel like this would make an amazing addition to a campaign setting. I guess I’ll find out because I am absolutely making it a part of mine!
Void-Touched: Warped Flesh and Twisted Minds. I see void-related content created by Dan Dillon, I take notice. I gazed into the Kobold Press Void years ago and it must have gazed back because I can’t get enough of this stuff. Void dragons and void magic became major components of my longrunning Spelljammer campaign, and I’m keen to sprinkle it around in just about any game I run. This material presents some of the nasty things that can happen when a character encounters or uses magic from the void, but it can just as easily be used for any sort of weird, grotesque or bizarre scenarios you imagine.
New Character Options. I’m lumping these together because frankly there’s a lot of really cool sounding new stuff I’m sure tons of players will enjoy. The Enigma and Fugitive backgrounds, Bard College of Shadows and Bard College of Criminology are just a few. I really enjoy The Order of the Ebon Star, because the Herald of the Ebon Star Roguish Archetype includes a deep well of content in support. I’m a strong believer in creating new character options to enhance your own setting, and I think it’s really cool for both GMs and players when their character choices not only affect them mechanically but plug them into a greater tapestry in the world.
If you want to check out Warlock Grimoire from Kobold Press, you can find it over at DriveThruRPG here, or visit the Kobold Press website.