Since 2012, the Kobold Press imprint has produced some of the best-received third-party content for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Their biggest release – both in terms of sheer size and tabletop roleplaying game culture penetration – is the Tome of Beasts. The 433-page book of monsters is a staple on the shelf of countless D&D players, as iconic and indispensable as the Monster Manual for many Dungeon Masters (myself included).
The material produced by Kobold Press runs the gamut and truly includes something for everyone who plays D&D. Everything from a complete campaign setting to new schools of magic, Game Master guides, the 2017 Ennie Award-winning Kobold Guide to Plots and Campaigns and the recently released Prepared 2: A Dozen One-shot Adventures for 5th Edition offer valuable resources for D&D DMs and players.
But if even all of that isn’t enough, esteemed game designer Wolfgang Baur and the team at Kobold Press launched a new project designed to give even more cool material on a regular, ongoing basis. The Warlock is a Patreon-fueled project in the form of a booklet containing new maps, monsters, character options and more. You can find out all about it and pledge your support here.
— Kobold Press (@KoboldPress) August 26, 2017
Wolfgang Baur talks Warlock from Kobold Press
The Warlock is a booklet filled with content to expand the dark fantasy of the Midgard Campaign Setting from Kobold Press, but that doesn’t mean you have to run your D&D games set in that world to take advantage of content in Warlock.
“It’s really a way for us to put out in-house the things that don’t find a home somewhere else. Or things that aren’t going to hit for six months or a year, but that we’d love to share now.”
– Wolfgang Baur
As a Patreon product, several pledge goals have already been met as of this writing, with the first issue set for release sometime shortly after Sept. 1, according to Baur. Support for Warlock has achieved half of the eight pledge goals. Meeting these goals got Warlock off the ground and able to be shipped worldwide, and give a well-deserved raise to the writers, artists, art director Marc Radle and editor Scott Gable. Remaining goals will expand the page count, increase the frequency of publication, give another raise to creators and commission articles from Baur, Richard Green, Mike Shea, Dan Dillon and other accomplished designers.
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.
Tiered reward levels for Patreon pledges to Warlock allow interested gamers a wide swath of entry points to enjoy the content, from a $1 pledge to get the PDF version of Warlock, patron-only polls and news feed plus sneak peeks at images from upcoming releases. At the other end of the spectrum, pledging $23 or more gets patrons the Warlock Grimoire (when that goal is met, which this writer has no doubt will occur), personalized lore and rules requests, notes from the Shadow Roads and the rewards of all lesser tiers.
With art luminaries like Russ Nicholson, Jeff Dee, Gabriel Cassata and Karl Waller adding their fantastic work to the designers and creators writing material for Warlock, each booklet will focus on a particular theme.
Rather than sticking to a rote list of features, this approach allows Warlock creators to tailor a booklet’s material to a cohesive concept.
“Each booklet has a theme. The first one is about Lovecraft and the mythos and it’s very dark, the second one will be magic and the third one we haven’t announced yet. So there’s a loose theme organizing what’s in it. But it’s not like ‘we’ve got to have a map, and we’ve got to have a lair and an NPC.’ ”
– Wolfgang Baur
Warlock patrons are invited to an exclusive club
The community-supported project from a smaller group of inner circle Kobold Press designers to create small black and white booklets purely for the joy of sharing quirky content that didn’t fit anywhere else in a current product line harkens back to the zines of decades past. For me in particular, the 90s were all about zines – self-published small-run print publications devoted to their creators passions. Every punk rock concert, comic shop, bookstore and cafe of my youth was a place to find and share zines of every stripe. I even published several myself. One of them that some friends and I started continues to this day, albeit an evolved online version helmed solely by an old friend whose vast amount of work is truly astounding.
Nostalgic tangent aside, Warlock strikes me as a sort of entry ticket into a special, secret club with Kobold Press. Because, and not despite, the content doesn’t fit anywhere else at the time, it feels like the creators are really sharing pieces that are close to their hearts with a select group of people who are in on the experience with them.
“My hope is that these booklets are valued as cool little pieces. I suspect they’re going to be insanely collectible because we’re only doing something like 100 copies of the first one. It really is like those [zines]. Seattle was huge in the zine scene – a lot of places where those were a thing. And this is a throwback to that, to some degree: little booklets full of good nuggets that show up now and again to me is still a wonderful model of surprise and coolness.”
– Wolfgang Baur
Admittedly, Baur says the material in Warlock might be weird, and not every single piece will be the kind of stuff you’ll seamlessly slot into your next game session. But therein lies the charm of Warlock. It shows a real trust between the Kobold Press team and those whose Patreon support gives them a ticket to ride. Whereas a refined, finished product release has undergone the complete process, what appeals to me about Warlock is the rawness of it. Patrons will get a glimpse at what sort of stuff is the juice for these designers.
That’s not to say it won’t be quality material. Far from it, I’m expecting instead to very much enjoy delving into musings on Beldestan – a part of the Midgard setting that Warlock gives room to breathe, or Dan Dillon’s more esoteric thoughts on the Void. And alongside these great features and game content Warlock patrons can enjoy terrific, original fantasy art. If that’s not worth $1 a month (or $5 for a print version of the booklet) I don’t know what is for D&D gamers.
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“If you back Warlock, you get regular shots of adrenaline for your game. It’s new 5E dark fantasy content – monsters, lairs, mini-adventures, character options, maps. And, you get to expand the world of Midgard. We’re going to zoom in on particular places that are fascinating, but not quite the kind of thing you put in the core rules book. And since we’ve already said dark fantasy, there may be material there that’s a little more R-rated than PG. There may be material there that’s…dark and nasty – that’s where we’re going on some of it. You’re putting some money down for a unique stream of new material other people may never see, a collectible book, and a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff that’s partly driven by the patrons from the Patreon. We’re taking requests – that’s doesn’t happen often in the industry.”
– Wolfgang Baur
Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, world building, or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy or his own blog The Long Shot, he’s a newspaper designer, copy editor and journalist. He loves advocating the RPG hobby and connecting with other nerds and gamers on social media and his site thelongshotist.com.