Tales of the Old Margreve

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Maiden with skull lantern in dark forest
As the Open Design experiment has expanded and won critical and publishing success, a few people have clearly shown just how great collaborative adventure design can be. Tim and Eileen Connors are right at the top of the list, and I’m happy to announce that Open Design is commissioning a project that they will lead: a Pathfinder RPG adventure anthology of 8 adventures set in the deep forest dark, and called Tales of the Old Margreve.

Tim and Eileen write, “We are incredibly excited about Tales of the Old Margreve. What nightmares lurk under its dark canopy? What superstitions well in its dark hollows? Soon, we’ll put out our fire, shoulder our packs, and enter the darkness of this frontier. We’re hoping you’ll take up your torch and join us… before the night swallows us all.”

Patrons will design the 8 adventures with feedback, discussion, and review by Tim and Eileen and their fellow patrons, using discussion in a private section of the Kobold Quarterly forums. As with other recent Open Design adventures, the final project will be published in print and available to the public. Patrons will have an inside view of the process and can shape the adventures with comments or by direct design contributions. In addition, all patrons will be credited. Several Open Design patrons have learned enough from this collaborative style to go and publish work with other RPG companies as well, and because of the high number of eyes on the design, the level of design has been very high, with Open Design projects winning multiple awards.

The Tales of the Margreve project commission is starting today and should be complete by April 10; if the project is not funded in time for any reason, all patrons will get a full refund.

Sign up for Tales of the Old Margreve today

Award-winning designers Tim and Eileen Connors have written fan-favorite adventures in Dungeon magazine, including “Escape from Meenlock Prison” and “Siege of the Spider Eaters”. They have penned scenarios for Pathfinder Society, written many feature articles for Kobold Quarterly, published 3.5 edition and Call of Cthulhu adventures in three Open Design projects, and won a Silver ENnie for their “Tail of the Mouse King” adventure in the Tales of Zobeck anthology.

    25 Comments

  1. I’d love to hear more about this. And by hear, I mean HEAR. 😉

    Mairkurion

    February 11, 2010

  2. This project has so much potential that it’s hard to know where to start! Let me try to paint a 10,000 ft. view of what lies below.

    In this eight adventure anthology, heroes trek past crumbled griffon towers, over stiles and shepherds’ fields, to where the lonely road thins and branches under the dark canopy of the Margreve Forest. Deep in the forest’s misty hollows, medieval Eastern Europe unfolds in all its superstitious, Old World glory. Here, the rusalka’s song rises over the crackle of a midnight fire. Here, those who ignore the old ways are never seen again.

    Patrons will have the opportunity to populate this dark wood frontier with creatures drawn from Eastern European folklore and their own twisted imaginations. From proto-creatures that precede the vampire to the vodyanoy’s tangled collection of the drowned, a menagerie of fell creatures will snarl from an all new bestiary. Many will claw their way into the eight adventures. If you like designing creatures based on real-world mythology, “Tales of the Old Margreve” will give you a venue for spotlighting and publishing your darkest ideas.

    Senior patrons and invited freelancers will have the opportunity to pitch adventures for the anthology. There are eight adventure slots up for grabs. Each pitch will be professionally critiqued, and the top, patron-voted pitches will be published as part of the anthology. While all adventures will share the dark-forest/Old World theme, each adventure will be able to stand alone, giving its designer full freedom to tell the fever-dream story that most excites and haunts him. On the flip side, the adventures will spread across the level 1-10 range and be playable by the same adventuring party. Whether you are an aspiring or veteran adventure writer, “Tales of the Old Margreve” will give you the opportunity to vie with your peers and industry greats to publish the adventure you’ve thought about for so long.

    Like the Ennie-award winning “Tales of Zobeck” project, a new gazetteer will accompany the Margreve adventure anthology. The “Old Margreve Gazetteer” will define the quintessential feel of this forest world and give GMs a host of adventure hooks keyed to lost towns, forgotten kobold mines, and other woodland nooks. The gazetteer will also present a new school of Old World magic, including spells submitted and voted on by patrons.

    Whether you choose to bring your players to the forest between the vampire knights and the clockwork city or you choose to drop the Old Margreve into your own campaign world, this project has alot to offer designers and players alike. Eileen and I hope that you’ll join our camp just outside this Great Old Wood. Help us design what’s inside. Challenge your players to thwart the wiles and claws of Old World creatures, to fear and ply the power of folk magic, and to earn a place in fireside tales.

    Tim Connors

    February 11, 2010

  3. This is very exciting! Sounds like an awesome project and I can’t wait to see how it grows and develops.

    Adam Daigle

    February 11, 2010

  4. Man, I am cutting-and-pasting that description right into the patron private board over in the Forum, because I think it will spark discussion and questions.

    I wanna know more about the new school of magic, for instance.

    @mairkurion, podcast discussion may happen in April. Remains to be seen!

    Wolfgang

    February 11, 2010

  5. The school of Old World magic did it for me. I’m in.

    Stefen

    February 11, 2010

  6. I will be in this week. I am loving Court of the Shadow Fey . . . and I need to have some PF too!

    The Last Rogue

    February 11, 2010

  7. A chill just ran up my spine. I sense an eldritch malevolence watching from the shadows beneath the boughs. Someone’s will spin a grisly yarn by the fire tonight, a whispered tale of Old World horrors and terrible secrets few now remember, and I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight. But that’s probably wise. This close to the forest.

    This sounds GREAT!!

    Tim and Eileen Connors? The perfect choice! Nobody does it better.

    (But please, Tim. No visions of school girls jumping rope with someone’s intestines this time. I still have nightmares.)

    If at all possible, let’s have the big-picture folk with the talented pens churn out the Gazetteer before the call of adventure pitches. I applaud the plan to allow writers to create their own scenarios without bending to serve a complex story-arc! But it would be wonderful to draw from a common setting’s atmosphere and unified foundation of assumptions before pitching!

    Ashenvale7

    February 11, 2010

  8. Fortunately, there’s a map of the area and some Zobeck canon about the forest. So some kind of common reference points.

    Wolfgang

    February 11, 2010

  9. Totally hear you Ashenvale! One of the nicest things about writing for the “Tales of Zobeck” anthology was that there were already foothold articles in KQ–all sorts of idea-prompting info about the clockwork city, the cartways and the kobold ghetto, the mouse king and the gangs and the spyglass guild. The Zobeck gazetteer didn’t exist when the adventure pitches came in, but these KQ articles did, and that made all the difference to the quality and variety of those pitches. Wolfgang is a master of telling you just enough about a place and its people to get you drooling for more…and fill you with enough ideas to extend his vision on your own.

    Wolfgang, is there time for you or I to write a Margreve “grounding” article for the next KQ? Filled with hooks, nooks, and crooks.

    Tim Connors

    February 11, 2010

  10. Tim, I agree on the value of a grounding article on the Margreve (and there was a short one in KQ#1 or #2…), but it is too late for issue #13.

    Maybe start pulling that together on the Margreve private forum? We could use it as a touchstone throughout the design process.

    Wolfgang

    February 11, 2010

  11. You got it boss!

    Tim Connors

    February 11, 2010

  12. Wow.

    Running over to my PayPal account, just give me a few days…

    Sounds great. And perfect for a Ravenloft game. I am on my way to pimp this…

    Patrick

    PS: And yes the Connors are a great fit for this project.

    Bullonir

    February 12, 2010

  13. I want an old forest sourcebook.

    This anthology will be a great start!

    Thorr-kan

    February 12, 2010

  14. Just subscribed, as I did to almost all Open Design projects of the past. I love the forest-theme and I’m delighted to explore another part of the world of Zobeck. I especially love the brainstorming sessions early on in a new project.

    …and I simply don’t find a single reasonthat would justify NOT subscribing. As always, I simply won’t have the time for senior patronage, so a patron account serves me well enough. Looking forward to a new round of brainstorming! :o)

    Btw: Am I the only one thinking that The world of Zobeck needs a campaign setting-book(i.e. something like the Grey Old Box for the early Forgotten Realms, or the 3E FRCS)? While I like exploring one area after the other, I’d like to see something of a framework around it…

    tauster

    February 13, 2010

  15. A Zobeck campaign setting book would be awesome, and a LOT of work.

    I’m getting a strong vibe of horror for Old Margreve from these posts. While the deep primordial forest IS a good place for that theme I would request of those who get a Patronage before I buy mine, don’t forget the Majesty and Fey Wonder one might experience in such a place. Lift those PC’s up with awe before you crush them in terror.

    Doomedpaladin

    February 13, 2010

  16. I hope I’m not the only one thinking about Paizo’s Golarion. This sounds like a great idea for placement in Ustalav and Irrisen maybe even on the border between the two. So could there be a “how to” section for adapting to Golarion specifically. I ask because I never have enough time to make conversions myself. I may support the project anyway; I am pondering how much time I would have to read posts during development. I know I won’t be able to contribute more than voting, but I‘ve wanted in on an Open Design project for a while now.

    Thanks for considering.

    uffinf

    February 13, 2010

  17. @doomedpaladin, agree entirely that horror is good but not the only note to hit. Fortunately, with 8 adventures by 8 different designers, we’ll have a variety of approaches and tones, likely including Majesty and Awe.

    @uffinf, a list of likely placements and conversions for Golarion is definitely a possibility. For the most part, I suspect we just need to change a few proper nouns to make it work for Ustalev and Irrisen.

    Wolfgang

    February 13, 2010

  18. I am lost.

    I can not help but join this project. I’ve been caling for something with touches of Baba Yaga for years now.

    Plus a certain contest has finally infected me with a strong design bug.

    Jim Groves

    February 14, 2010

  19. Sounds really good. Up until now, I’ve only been hanging out here for inspiration, since I use my own game world and system for playing. But I look into lots of other stuff for inspiration and has lately bought the Pathfinder core books and am getting ready to try it out. This sounds like the perfect project to get involved in for when we’re ready to take it up a notch 🙂 I think I’ll jump on the patronage-band wagon for the first time for this one.

    Jonas Hedegaard

    February 15, 2010

  20. Hope my tax refund gets here before the patronage cost goes up. This sounds like an AMAZING project. Curse being a broke broke student.

    M8Adam

    February 15, 2010

  21. Can’t wait to see you guys on the inside. More folks are joining daily, and by the looks of things, we’ll be commissioned in short order. To those thinking of signing up, now’s the time to pull the trigger. The brainstorms are ramping up, and terrible foes slouch toward the Margreve to be born.

    Tim Connors

    February 15, 2010

  22. Great responses, Tim & Wolfgang. Thanks!

    Mairkurion

    February 15, 2010

  23. This sounds very interesting! Honestly though HOW do I pledge. How do you become a senior Patron? If you never pledged to Open Design before are you just relegated to Junior status.

    If I click the 24.95 is that just the cost for the finished project?

    Mournblade94

    February 15, 2010

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