The background of the big announcement goes all the way back to1978, when I read a small book by Gary Gygax detailing the use of outdoor and wilderness adventures in D&D. This book, along with what has affectionately been termed the “Skull Dungeon” of John Holmes fame, formed the basis of my thinking when I began to write my own vast dungeon that I called Rappan Athuk.
A decade ago, I released the first few levels of Rappan Athuk as a book, which wasfollowed by a series of releases of different parts and pieces (29 levels in the first 3 books, andanother 7 or so later in Rappan Athuk Reloaded).
To my surprise, even though I expected it to be a success,Rappan Athuk turned out to be one of the major hits of the Third Edition decade. Even though it’s not the largest dungeon that was ever published (it might be this time!), it quickly picked up a reputation for being one of the deadliest, and if you haven’t heard, “Don’t go down the Well” or “Beware of Purple Worms,” you probably weren’t attending gaming conventions or reading the RPG internet during the Third Edition years.
Rappan Athuk Reloaded,which contained a lot more of the original dungeon, became an immediate collector’s item. With only 1000 copies ofRappan Athuk’s expanded version in existence, many players unfortunately could never get a copy. This was probably fortunate for a lot of player characters, but it means that many people who wanted to see the dungeon’s broader scope never got to see what they were missing.
Well, it’s been almost 10 years since I wrote the last few chapters of Rappan Athuk Reloaded. As you would expect, I haven’t been idle during that time. In fact, over the last few hundred gaming sessions I’ve run, I have continued to write up my notes from levels that were never published, and add new levels as adventurers continued to explore. Many of the mid-level areas have been fleshed out (the ultimate adversaries, of course, remained the same), and several new upper levels have been added as adventurers avoided “The Well” and “The Mausoleum” in attempts to delve deeper into Rappan Athuk’s depths. I have been mulling over what to do to get this monster out to all of you. So here goes…
Weighing in with over 50 dungeon levels and dozens of wilderness areas, Rappan Athuk will be released next summer as a hardbound, library-stitched book in both Pathfinder and Swords and Wizardry formats. The book contains 18 more levels even thanRappan Athuk Reloaded, as well as the outdoor adventures supporting them. I am also working on a leather cover (or faux leather) for thebinding.
This thing is truly the granddaddy of all dungeons. It represents years of play testing, years of adventure, and hundreds of player character deaths. Many parts of my campaign that have transpired over the years are included in its pagesfrom the dead remains of fallen heroes, to marks left on walls, to cryptic scribblings left by lost or dying adventurers.
Just like the dungeons of the early 1970s played by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson,Rappan Athukis like a living being, big enough to be used for thousands of hours of play. From the Goblin city of Greznek to the Hall of the Titan Cyclops, from the Well of Zelkor to the Mithril gates, and from the Well of Agamemnon to the Abyssal pocket-plain and to the throne of Orcus himself—this terrifying place will create memorable experiences for all players and Game Masters.
This Tome represents the completed manuscript, including the wilderness surrounding the dungeon, three villages nearby, and the dreaded Temple of Tsathogga, where the sinister, evil priests of the frog-demon seek dark secrets and dark powers lost when the army of light destroyed the temple of Orcus at the site.
This book will be available for pre-order in March or April 2012. Retail price and page count are still to be determined (though it will probably be about $125 and 1000 pages or so). The pre-ordered copies will contain bonus material as a pdf enhancement that were cut from the final manuscript and will not be available after the pre-order period ends.
So once again, in this new decade of gaming, we will have the chance to say, “Don’t go down the Well.”