There’s a vast underground network of tunnels, caverns, halls and ruins. There are evil monsters, wicked traps, and devious tricks waiting to disembowel or otherwise harry ill-prepared adventurers who wander in. Hope is a foreign term to the grizzled veterans who approach the entrance to the limitless depths. They’ve abandoned the word in favor of more appealing ones, ones they’ve come to be fond of.
Combat. Glory. Treasure.
This is Rappan Athuk. This is the Dungeon of Graves.
Rappan Athuk Kickstarter details
Frog God Games recently launched a Kickstarter for a massive 500-page revival of the classic megadungeon Rappan Athuk. If you’re unfamiliar with what a megadungeon is, here’s how the company describes it in the Kickstarter:
“Once upon a time, there was an idea—an idea formulated by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974 and published in a little paperback book called Underworld Adventures. The idea was simple: it is a lot of fun to go into a dungeon and kill evil monsters. Why is the dungeon there? No one knows. Why do the monsters usually fight rather than talk? We aren’t really sure. Why are there 16 trolls in a cave with a jug of alchemy? No one cares. What do all the monsters eat? We don’t know that either (although “adventurer” probably tops the list). And we don’t have to know these things. This isn’t an ecology experiment, it’s a dungeon—the quintessential setting for pure swords and sorcery adventuring.”
This new version is updated from the 2012 release for Swords and Wizardry and Pathfinder. Included in the rework are the following:
- All new, full color artwork
- Three new levels of the Rappan Athuk dungeon itself
- Three new wilderness locations, including a three-level castle
- A new three-level satellite dungeon
- A sea cave of terrible shark-men! A Kickstarter exclusive level released from the Vault of Tsathogga!
- Updated color maps, available as separate PSD files for online play, are included for all levels
- Scores of NPCs and monsters, dozens of magic items and spells, and the legendary dung monster
If this interests you at all, you’ll be able to get your hands on a PDF copy of the full 5E update with a pledge of $45 or more. I’ve always loved megadungeons as a concept and can’t wait to see what’s in store in Rappan Athuk.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Zach Glazar, a partner with Frog God Games, to ask him some questions about the Kickstarter and the motivations behind the product itself.
What do you like about megadungeons? What makes them attractive for a DM, both experienced and new?
I like that they are persistent and no two experiences are the same. Multiple exits, entrances and routes through the dungeon to manifold goals keeps the adventure fresh.
What are some sources of inspiration that you brought to the updated version of Rappan Athuk? How did you expand on the original concept and bring that into the realm of 5E?
What we wanted was to bring the first edition feel to a solid fifth edition release of a classic dungeon. Rappan Athuk has always been our most beloved product and creating an authentic fifth edition experience for it was by far out most frequent customer request.
That being the situation we brought in converters and editors for the original content while using writers that have been working with Rappan Athuk for years (especially Bill Webb, the original creator). The principle we wanted to see brought into fifth edition was the highly challenging and lethal elements that made it famous in third edition.
Would you say that the megadungeon you’ve developed is modular, in the sense that potential users could add their own content or expand on the content provided in a pretty seamless fashion if they were inspired by what’s presented to create their own floors or rooms, etc.?
With over 119 maps of keyed areas and locations within the cover of the main book, customization is an inherent feature. In fact most feedback we get is from Dungeon Masters that use many of the elements as separate entities within their own campaigns. This played a big role in our decision to run a ‘prequel’ maps Kickstarter that includes layered PSD files. These allow for customization options on an unprecedented scale.
From the Nerditor’s desk
If you enjoy deep dives into worldbuilding and adventure creation, check out the Tome of Adventure Design from Frog God Games.
Useful for a multitude of game systems, this book contains tried-and-true random tables to spark your imagination, help Game Masters prepare and gives creative resources to make your adventures come alive. It also comes with a clever on-brand acronym totally free! If you enjoy deep dives into worldbuilding and adventure creation, check out the Tome of Adventure Design from Frog God Games.If you enjoy deep dives into worldbuilding and adventure creation, check out the Tome of Adventure Design from Frog God Games.
And how about those acronym skills, huh?
Nerdarchy has an exclusive promo code for the Frog God Games store, available twice per user. STAY-NERDY-30 gives you a 30 percent discount on anything in the store.
What worldbuilding resources do you use? Do you have a method to your homebrew madness? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’re as intrigued as I am with Rappan Athuk: Reborn and want to learn more, you can check it out over at this link.
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Graduate student in pure math by day, avid tabletop gamer by night. Austin is a lifelong gamer who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction, and musing about all things tabletop roleplaying, from classic hidden gems to modern powerhouses like 5e D&D.