Although gamers with broad experience may recognize both Fainting Goat and Tondro as producers of superhero gaming material, I’ve played D&D and talked D&D with Jason since the day I first met him in grad school back in 2001, and everyone on the team is a long-time D&D player.
The setting is the Goatlands, at the center of which is the Kingdom of Panalane, where the action of the first adventure takes place. That first adventure, Jason Tondro’s 1st-level Spiders on the Storm, was recently released on RPGNow. Its logline reads, “Twice this tiny settlement, built on the ruins of an ancient aqueduct deep in the Goatlands, has been raided by giant spiders possessing a strange cunning. Innocents have been taken, and the spiders are coming back!”
As one of the adventure’s first readers, I think it’s a great kick-off for the series, and early reviews so far have been positive, though that review makes me wish I’d also titled my upcoming scenario after a Doors’ song! Tondro’s adventure has also established the template for everyone else’s contributions to the series. Each of us has developed a different part of the setting, with Tondro designing his Kingdom of Panalane to be “default” D&D–a place where any PC built by standard rules could hail from, and which can act as a campaign entry point for the world as a whole. Tondro’s adventure includes a gazetteer for the Kingdom of Panalane, and the plan is for each of us to do the same with our own adventures. (My favorite creative detail in Tondro’s adventure is the village of Archway, which has been built into the levels of an abandoned Roman-style aqueduct.)
As Goatlands’ showrunner, Tondro has given the rest of us permission (encouragement, even) to go a bit bonkers with our own regions. Quite a few of us are already taking those liberties to heart, as you can witness in a recent introductory podcast. Me, I’m fond of Exploration Age adventure, so my region is the dangerous Jotun Sea and the untamed but resource-rich continent of Karajaam on the other side, with its indigenous peoples and sweeping wilderness. The sea crossing is the starring attraction of my first piece, though: The adventurers have to navigate waters populated by the maeljotun–sea giant pirates. In addition to that piece, I’m right now copy-editing a fantastic river-based sandbox adventure that Jim Seals wrote for the Goatlands. Set near Santiago Landing in the map at right, it features nomadic river communities; floating witch towers; abandoned, flooded cities; perilous river crossings; menacing druids, and more. I’m only halfway through it and I already want to use it. Walt Robillard, also part of the team, is putting together an isolated region called Suram where the dominant races are all of the humanoids who aren’t welcome among elves and humans–in essence, it’s a goblin nation.
Finally, Wallace Cleaves, my fellow writer here at the Ludus, has recently joined us and plans to put together a great frontier setting in the far North, where adventurers can defend a kind of Hadrian’s Wall against rampaging orcs. Having myself played in a frontier campaign like that with Wallace as the GM, I confidently predict that it’ll be as cool as it sounds.
If you check out the Goatlands, drop us a line and let us know what you think!