The Evils of Illmire: A Mini-Mega Hexcrawl Adventure Zine is a 68-page dark fantasy adventure for 4-6 player characters level 1-3. Built for OSR Systems. Bonus compatibility for Dungeon World, 5E, and SS&SS!
My favorite types of adventure modules have always been the ones that provide not just a central plot, but also robust peripheral content to surround it. Adventurers will probably get involved in the main quest, but there are a lot of other things to keep them busy in the nearby areas too.
Interesting creatures, locales, dungeons, and treasures abound in these types of modules. PCs are free to explore and meddle in a sandbox environment with many interactive parts. This is an attempt to capture that and mash it down into a digestible zine format that is actually useful and inspires the Game Master.
The core concept and bulk of the ideas come from a classic 2nd Edition campaign I ran in the summer of 1997. I've since then revisited the content and added a number of other points of interest to create an adventure region stocked with dungeons, monsters, and treasures, all with an underlying sandbox plot that doesn't railroad. Traps are vicious and brutal. Adventurers will find classic +1 swords alongside a myriad of weird and interesting artifacts hidden in dangerous spots around the map. They'll clash with and flee from familiar monsters and a bunch of new creepy things.
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A cult has begun to infiltrate to town of Illmire, spreading paranoia and terrorizing the locals with fear-mongering in order to feed their demonic idol. The cult worships an extra dimensional demon they found in some ruins in the nearby swamp. Lured by mysterious rumors of treasure out in the wilds, adventurers face an uphill battle against organized and fanatical zealots lead by vile, sorcerous clerics. They'll stop at nothing to further their diabolical schemes, and the people of Illmire will be crushed beneath their boot as they launch a campaign of torment and terror that will spread far beyond Illmire unless put to a stop.
This will be a 64-page zine, A5 format (5.5x8.5). It will contain a small hexcrawl with 19 distinct hexes, each with details and a wandering monster table. There is a map of the town of Illmire, as well as 15 detailed, one-page locations/dungeons. In addition, there is a bestiary for the adventure featuring some new monsters for adventurers to fight or run from. There is a simple weather system (so easy you'll actually want to use it!) to determine which hexes are experiencing rain, thunderstorms, floods, mudslides, blizzards, etc. There's awesome black & white artwork to help inspire terror. It's laid out in professional, clear, concise format meant to be quick and easy to use on game night.
The pages are graced with evocative artwork from Jack Badashski and Heather Shinn (Stinky Goblin Emporium). There is wicked cover art and a custom hex map that will be provided by Patrik Olsson. The dungeon cartography is by legendary mapper Dyson Logos. We've also brought on the illustrator known as HodagRPG as a spot artist for the character sheet, player handouts, and other neat little visual things that come with all pledge levels.
Stretch Goal Content
As part of the Kickstarter Campaign, we were able to raise enough funding to expand the original scope and add new cool elements that you'll be able to get your hands on.
- We hit $1000 in funding! We will have the hex map re-drawn by a talented artist to give it even more life and personality.
- We hit $1200 in funding! The booklet will gain a high quality, heavy stock cover with some truly wicked artwork that will make it look great in your zine stack.
- We hit $1400 in funding! The product will include a printable, hand-drawn OSR character sheet PDF to use with your Evils of Illmire campaign.
- We hit $1600 in funding! Evils of Illmire now includes a digital PDF guidebook you can print out to hand to your players as an introduction to Illmire. This'll be great for on-boarding adventurers and getting them in the right mindset (excited and terrified at the same time).
- We hit $1800! I'll add an optional second set of 4-panels to go inside of the Adventure's Guide, making it a total of 8 panels.
- We hit $2000! I'll add Module Reference GM Screen panels! The digital package will contain PDF files to print for use as inserts in the DriveThruRPG customizable GM screen. If you don't have one of these screens, no worries; just paper-clip the printed panels to an existing GM screen.
- We hit $2200! I'll add a second side to the custom character sheet to include extra space for notes and tracking conditions for your poor, poor adventurers.
- We hit $2500! I'll now add 4 additional pages to the 64-page zine; this means it'll be a 68-page zine. Three of these pages will be added to the Gazeteer of Illmire and will cover unique flora and fauna of the region; a few may be dangerous enough to warrant combat stats, but most will be either interesting to encounter or useful in some way. The final page will be a guide to crafting items using ingredients harvested from said flora and fauna.
- We hit $3000! Amazing! We'll now include pre-made characters so you can hop right into a game or hand them out as quick replacements for fallen adventurers. Prefer to make your own characters? Me too; use these guys as possible hirelings or a rival adventuring party!
- We $3500! The module will gain a separate expansion PDF that adds an Underdark area, including another dungeon!
- We hit $4000! I'll keep adding more art to make this zine gorgeous!
- We hit our YouTube Stretch Goal! Unlocked Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells, plus an interview with Diogo "Old Skull" Nogueira!
- Introduction: A general explanation of the adventure background and details on how to use the module.
- Fighting the Cult: A description of the state of affairs in Illmire and guide to how PCs can fight against the cult.
- Hex Map of Illmire: A hexmap featuring 19 distinct hexes, each with a brief description. Also includes simple weather system and hexcrawl suggestions.
- Gazetteer of Illmire: Detailed descriptions of the geography and features of each of area of the map. Also details many location-based NPCs.
- Town Map: A map of the town of Illmire, including a key describing the inhabitants of the town and their current status regarding cult operations, plus suggestions of what might happen if the cult is not stopped.
- Inn of the Weary Wagoner: An old caravan way-stop that's been infiltrated and taken over by the cult. Includes a map of both floors and the cellars, with keyed locations and details.
- Defiled Temple of the Luminal Star: What should be a holy temple dedicated to the lawful gods of humankind has been secretly ransacked and desecrated by the nightmare cult. Map with keyed locations.
- Rancidius the Fearmonger and the Fearspawn: Detailed descriptions and images of one of the cult's wicked leaders, and the boss monster of the Defiled Temple.
- Gecko Pit and the Buried Bastion: One of the side-content dungeons. Adventurers may be lured here by rumors of a castle lost below the swamp containing treasures. Also home to lots of hungry giant geckos. Map and key.
- The Webbed Hollows: Another side dungeon, this one filled with giant arachnids, huge flying insects, an intelligent spider gone crazy, and sneaky ettercaps that hide in orb-weaver sacks. Map and key.
- Abandoned Copperclaw Mines: Adventurers investigating the cult may find themselves checking out the local mines. What they find is another terrible echo of the cult's influence. Here they've slain the miners and have begun to build a small army of zombies. Map and key. Partially completed.
- Illmire Bandit Stronghold & The False Watchtower: What started as a minor clan of highwaymen has grown stronger and more bold now that they are taking orders from the cult. They are tasked with kidnapping travelers to be used as sacrifice victims. They are building a stronghold around the old watchtower and they pose as the militia. Map and key.
- Mound of the Mantis Men: Out on the bogs is a huge mound built by a swarm of vicious praying mantis people. They march over the swamps, hunting geckos, froglings, stirges, and the occasional trapper who didn't watch their back. Map and key.
- Gribblet Village and the Froglings: Where the Illmire Bogs meet the Redthorn Forest, a village of treefrog people have built a hidden home in the canopies of the great wood. They harbor a potential ally for adventurers, but struggle with attacks from the neighboring mantis mound. Description and artwork.
- Forgotten Crypt of the Lost Clan: Hidden in the woods are a series of burial mounds built by a long forgotten people who inhabited the forest. One such mound is still accessible but lousy with undead. Map and key.
- Sunken Grottoes of the Fish Folk: Under the murky waters of Misty Lake, a reclusive group of fish men lair inside underwater caves. Something has been driving them to attack the local logging camp. Map and key.
- Prison Vault of the Demon Warlords: Legend says that centuries ago a pair of evil demons who ravaged these lands were imprisoned in a magical vault at the peak of the Klepperhorn, a giant and iconic mountain peak that looms over the King's Highway. Map and key.
- Ezrikaar and Eshraea: These two otherworldly fighters were summoned by a terrible sorcereress long ago to fight her enemies. The forces aligned against her used powerful magics to ensnare them and hold them in a remote vault. There they've waited for hundreds of years to be released. Artwork and descriptions.
- Crystalline Palace of the Mountain King: A boisterous mountain giant and his harem of hill giant slaves live in a grand castle built into the mountainside, complete with gardens of massive gypsum crystals. He's way more interested in challenging the adventurers with riddles and quests to test their heroism than he is with fighting. Map and key.
- Fungal Caverns of the Swamp Witch: These caverns are full of myconids and giant mushrooms. The cultists use sinister alchemical devices to corrupt the myconids and turn them into shriekers. They have also built a small workshop here where they produce potions of fear from juice rung from slain shriekers. The corruption has weakened an ancient witch that hides in these caves. Map and key.
- Obsidian Forge of the Lava Dwarfs: Once a great stronghold of dwarfs built into the mountain, their king became insane and obsessed with controlling the lava. He summoned a fire elemental he couldn't control. It turned him and his dwarf citizens into lava elementals as a punishment. Map and key.
- Lava Dwarfs and The Lava Lord: Descriptions of the lava dwarfs and their special qualities, as well as the Lava Lord. Artwork and descriptions.
- The Observer's Tower: A grand tower of ashen alabaster bursts through the trees and stretches high above the canopy. It's topped with a strange ocular apparatus. It is the legendary home of a mysterious sorcerer. There is more here than meets the eye... Map and key.
- The Observer, Silent Watchers, and Chimera Goblins: These creatures will be found in The Observer's Tower. Adventurers will soon find that the famed sorcerer may not even be human as assumed! Also details about his loyal servants, as well as the deformed, mutant results of experimental dabbling with goblins. Artwork and descriptions.
- Lair of the Nightmare Cult: The cultists of Illmire make their hidden den here. In a pool blackened by the blood of sacrifices, the fearmother lurks and feeds. This is a dire enemy; adventurers will need to bolster their strength before attempting an assault. Map and key.
- Virica the Vile and the Fearmother: Twin sister to Rancidius, Virica is the other half of leadership for the cult. She personally tends to the wicked fearmother. Descriptions and artwork.
- Compendium: Several pages at the back are dedicated to the bestiary, treasure descriptions, rumors (some true, some false), ominous fortune-teller sayings, and other neat random tables. Now includes Dungeon World and D&D 5th Edition monsters and stats.
- Compatibility Guide: We've added support for Dungeon World and D&D 5th Edition. There will be some tips and guidelines for running the adventure in those systems. Incomplete.
- Player Handouts: Various imagery, descriptive elements, in-game paper props, and other useful ephemera to hand out to your players.
- GM Screen: A module-centric GM screen PDF that can be printed as inserts for the DriveThruRPG GM screen or just attached to any existing screen with paperclips.
Whew that's a lot of bullet points!