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Interested in backing Beyond Dread Portals?
Want to be notified when the Kickstarter launches?
Behold, I and author Dr Mitch chat about Beyond Dread Portals for a good forty minutes over on D101 Games YouTube Channel.
Coming to crowdfunding over at gamefound.com later this year. Join our email newsletter to receive notification when we go live.
A guest post from Paul Mitchener (Liminal, Age of Arthur, Hunters of Alexandria, Tombs of the Necromancer to name a few author credits) explaining why he wrote our multi-dimensional Fantasy Adventure game, Beyond Dread Portals (now coming to Gamefound.com on 1st June). Take it away Mitch!
For me, it’s not usually a selling point when I hear that something was over 20 years in the making. So I’ll just say that Beyond Dread Portals is based on ideas I was playing with, and a fantasy campaign I ran about 20 years ago. The campaign was human-centric, without the usual elves and dwarves, world-hopping, and started the player characters off at high level, letting them rub against powerful enemies and make big changes to the setting.
As is the way of such things, I enjoyed it and then moved on to other things. But periodically I went back to it, sketching more things out in the setting, and started playing more with the mechanical side of things. It still wasn’t something I was aiming to publish, but it was something I was writing for fun.
It was only more recently, though still years ago now, that I started taking Beyond Dread Portals more seriously, thinking of it as something for other people to enjoy. This meant feedback, tightening up the writing, scrapping things which didn’t fit, and overall thinking about the design. Best of all, it meant more play, this time with a view to playtesting. It felt very natural to speak to Newt about this, as someone who likes and has published things of a similar nature and knows about tight game design.
Early feedback from Newt led to something simpler and better at the system end of things, and better presented and explained from the setting point of view. Best of all, he was engaged with it, clearly enjoying the setting and the concepts.
This is drifting away from the question, though… why did I write Beyond Dread Portals as something for publication? The short answer is that I needed to! But more specifically, it started to feel like it offered something a little different. Specifically.
As for the game system, it was a fun chance to design broadly in the OSR space, with all of its creativity, while still doing absolutely my own thing. Beyond Dread Portals began as an AD&D 2e setting but became something fresh and new. The inspiration there – things which effectively gave me permission – included rules sets which changed things to fit a concept, such as Newt’s own Crypts and Things – and systems I think of as post-OSR, which weren’t at all clones of the older D&D books, but changed things, sometimes radically. I won’t give a full ludography here, but some things I wanted from the design were.
Taking the DIY ethos of OSR gaming on board, Beyond Dread Portals is my D&D, with my sensibilities. I can’t wait to see it out there so that it’s no longer mine but ours.
The free artless preview edition is currently available via d101games.com.
Make a note in your diary, on April 2nd 2022, Paul Mitchener’s D20 post-D&D fantasy game of world-hopping is coming to Gamefound.com for a month-long crowdfunding campaign. More details as we near that date.
Folk who have been patiently waiting on me to get Beyond Dread Portals by Paul Mitchener out, I’m a stage forward, with my editorial on the 1st draft now done. To celebrate here’s a bit of teaser art Dan Barker has done for the Kickstarter later this year.
Peter Frain has come up with the goods, here’s the Dandy, the upper-class adventurer from Beyond Dread Portals. See this previous post about what went into the art direction for this piece.
Its been a while since I’ve posted anything about Paul Mitchener’s Beyond Dread Portals.
We are currently gearing up for a Kickstarter, tentatively scheduled for April.
As part of the preview art for that Kickstarter, and the Preview Edition that backers of the From the Shroud KS are getting, I asked Peter Frain of 77 Studios (who did the art for Monkey, the cover for Hunters of Alexandria, and the art for 2nd Edition Barbarians of Lemuria) to do a picture of one of the iconic fashions of the Empire of Ys, the Dandy. Apart from my quick “think Lord Flasheart from Blackadder II” I gave him Paul’s text:
Dandies & High Culture Fashion
When outsiders consider Ysian fashions, the first thing which comes to mind is the Ysian Dandy, with his, or more recently her, brightly coloured trousers, shirt, and complimentary hat. Precisely which colours are “in” varies from season to season, and the truly fashion-conscious manage to subvert it. Others try and fail to go against the trends. One recent subversion is moving away from bright colours to dress entirely in black, which was deliciously shocking at first in fashion circles, but as it spreads is starting to be considered crass. In fact, the style of the dandy only belongs to the High Culture. More typically, both genders wear shirts and trousers. The shirts are still brightly coloured, though more typically just one colour rather than the gaudy combinations of the fashion-conscious. Rich women have another option to them on formal occasions, namely the ball gown, which can be a work of art- though even there, the dandyish fashions are replacing it. Jewellery, when worn, is usually simple, taking the form of brooches for both genders, and earrings for women.
And this is what he came up with (click on images for larger version)
The From the Shroud #2 Kickstarter is nearly over, with less than 48 hours to go. Four stretch goals funded which include two additional a5 books (Crypts & Things Black Hacked and The Lost Lands of Grungamesh) and now we are funding a preview version of Paul Mitchener’s Beyond Dread Portals; an A5 version with adventure playable up to 5th Level. This is your chance for as low as £3 (the pdf level) to get a playable sneak peek of this game of fantastic multidimensional exploration.
If you are following the progress of Beyond Dread Portals, the upcoming game of post-D&D Multi-dimensional Fantasy Adventuring by Paul Mitchener, Mitch is running the following game at Furnace in October.
The Wizard’s Staff
By Paul Mitchener
Ys. A folded dimension filled with a vast city ruled by the undead Autarch and his vampiric agents. A city where the guilds and noble houses which once governed the city are fierce rivals, the Autarch stirring up the strife so his own rule goes unchallenged. Ys has portals to several different worlds, and is the capital of an empire with territories on each.
Nespo. A dead world, full of undead monsters where Ysian army and Guild of the Arcane has a tenuous presence. Explorations in the wrong places awoke the Autarch sixty years ago, and Ys has been his ever since.
You. You’re a group from the Guild of Explorers with a treasure map, seeking a magical staff which once belonged to a wizard who came remarkably close to defeating the Autarch. A staff which still, it is said, contains much of his power. You’re being paid very well to retrieve the staff, but when the time comes, if you succeed, if the rumours are true, will you give it up?
Yesterday I looked at the Empire of Ys which is the setting for Beyond Dread Portals.
Today I jump right in and look at the system that powers the game.
Beyond D20, The System
A D20 fantasy system, significantly more straightforward than D20 D&D.
The basic rule: Roll d20 add modifiers over a target number.
Modifiers can come from
So for example
Organo the Sly, a 5th Level Expert, doing a flying tumble over a large number of Mage-Guards of the Arcane Guild, rolls d20 with +5 for her Skill Rank, +8 for her background of being a member of a travelling circus and +3 for her Dexterity Modifier, for a whopping + 16 in total.
If Hargvard the Brute, a 5th level Warrior, is trying to do the same thing he doesn’t have any backgrounds that help acrobatics, so he would only get a + 1 from his Dex modifier. As a result, his player is far more likely to barge through the group of warriors, which allows Hargvard to bring in his background as a street thug and skills as a warrior into play for a much higher modifier.
The target number is assigned by the Referee and starts at 10, +5 for each complication involved in the test. Rolls can be opposed, so the target number can be a d20 roll generated by the opposition. So, in the above example, the Referee could roll a skill test for the Guards collectively and use the result as the target number.
Finally, if you can bring into play one of your character’s drives, which are written on the character sheet as short descriptions of what motivates the character, you get to roll twice picking the more favourable roll. However, if you fail, despite rolling twice, you land your character at great risk.
So in the above example, Organo’s player invokes her drive of “To live life to the full” and the Referee warns them that if Organo fails she will end up tumbling gracefully right into the middle of the crowd of Mage-Guards ready to pound her with their poleaxes.
Your character also has special class-based abilities. Such as fighting styles for warriors, spell casting and magic for magicians, various tricks of the trade for Experts. Some of these are expected D&D abilities, and some are from the setting.
Spell casting uses a familiar spell list, but casters have Magic Points, so it’s not the usual fire and forget system. All the spells from regular D&D that break a magic point system, such as Sleep and Charm Person, have either been removed or rewritten to fit in.