Blog (A5E) Dungeon Delver’s Guide: Meet the Team


With the Dungeon Delver's Guide Kickstarter in its last few days, we want to go over the amazing contributions of some of its writers.

William Fischer designed some of our most devious high-level traps, including the sinister Hourglass Room. He also did the Palace of the Amber Prince dungeon, which was featured in this article. William is also the book's lead editor and spot writer. Every passage in the book is better for having William on duty.

Will Gawned did a bunch of monsters for us, but what I want to highlight is not his excellent monster work but his mycelial heritage, one of the most charming in the book. A small, cautious people, they speak in reedy whispers and sing quiet, beautiful songs. I love these little folks and want to protect them! The mycelial is featured here.

Cassandra Macdonald's fingerprints are all over the Dungeon Delver's Guide. She contributed traps, class archetypes, magic items, and monsters, but most of all she designed dungeons. Three of our three-page dungeons—the Rotten Underbelly, the Serpent's Maw, and the Orden Barrow Mound - are hers. But her grossest—and therefore best—contribution has to be the decomposer druid, an archetype that is all about spreading disease, harvesting energy from corpses, and turning into a swarm of rats or bugs. This archetype will slither, fly, and/or bite its way into your heart.

Rory Madden contributed our fighter archetype, the dungeoneer, and our rogue archetype, the shadow stalker. More than that, as our resident char-op expert, he reviewed all of the player-facing material—classes, spells, equipment, and so on—for balance. Sure, he caught all the game-breaking stuff before it went out in the world to plague Narrators, but he also provided an underrated function that every player should appreciate: he told us when we were being too cautious in our design. Why include a game element unless it's big and fun? If you play some really wild DDG characters, thank Rory.

Sarah Madsen designed some new-standard dungeon monsters, like the slime mold. One slime mold can become two, and four, and eight when it wants to lay down serious damage to multiple opponents, and merge back to one when it wants to engulf and dissolve its prey. It combines the worst features of a gelatinous cube, black pudding, and mimic into one slimy nightmare. What's more, it's smarter than most oozes, and each shares a psychic connection with its siblings.

Peter N Martin is an all-positions player in the DDG—someone I turn to whenever I need some creativity spilled out onto the page. He wrote two high-level dungeons, including one in which the players can get a subterranean submarine! He also contributed a ton of archetypes, traps, magic items, random dungeons, cultures, and monsters. If I had to feature one of his contributions, through, it would have to be the great job he did with the equipment section. So much of the DDG's amazing equipment—including most of the cultural equipment—came from Peter's pen. Check out this preview to see his living, squirming abolethic equipment, including the sleepless mask and the parasite launcher.

Mike Myler is a Level Up rock star and I knew I couldn't do an A5E book without drawing on his design chops and system knowledge. Mike anchored the heritages section, designing the motley, oozefolk, and rockborn heritages, as well doing a bunch of work on cultures and archetypes. If you like customizing your character, you'll love the motley. Identified by their disparate collection of beastly body parts, motleys have a ton of heritage features to choose from, each with real mechanical weight. Want a prehensile tail? Simian arms? A cheetah's legs? Claws? Gills? You can (and should) run an all-motley adventuring party in which each character looks, and plays, unlike any other.

Morrigan Robbins is one of the deepest thinkers on DDG - literally. She designed Underland, the creepy, dreamlike cave world deep under the earth. I love how steeped in classic literary fantasy and horror it is and how it differs from other approaches to underground ecosystems. You can read all about Underland here.

Brandes Stoddard is an excellent and prolific designer I've long admired and I jumped at the chance to work with him. He contributed "The Old Number Ten Mine", a claustrophobic underground adventure that exemplifies the DDG ethos. It's a survival puzzle set in a collapsing mine. Rather than being a combat meat grinder, the adventure is cleverly designed to allow just as much, or as little, combat as the players desire, and the final challenge isn't a wicked monster boss but the earth itself.

Lydia Van Hoy had the steep challenge of designing an archetype for a new class, A5E's Marshal. The Expedition Leader is designed to support and guide a teams of underworld adventurers into the subterranean unknown. As Lydia says, "the best expedition leaders also have experience leading them out" (a much rarer skill). The Expedition Leader's Commanding Presence feature helps allies communicate in code, travel quickly as a team, perform synchronized attack combos, and spot and survive traps (a must-have skill considering the other contents of this book!)

Beyond the designers, there are a ton of other people to mention! We used EN writing by Walt Ciechanowski, C. Richard Davies, Mike Myler, and Anthony Pryor. We are deeply grateful for Phil Glotfelty's tireless consultation on accessibility issues. I also leaned on Peter Coffey, writer and TRPG Talk podcast cohost extraordinaire, as an editor and consultant.

Frank Michienzi, the graphic designer, had to solve a lot of layout challenges to pack this book with all the stuff we wanted to fit on every page. Thanks for consistently coming up with great layout ideas!

The art director Michael McCarthy did a great job zooming in on the look we wanted and marshaling our terrific artists: Erik Davis-Heim who did the amazing cover, Rafael Bejnamin our lead artist, and all the other amazing internal artists: Jacob Blackmon, Dana Braga, Marcel Budde, Mark Bulahao, Mathew Burger, Meshon Cantrill, Jeremy Corff, Ellis Goodson, Scott Harshbarger, Rick Hershey, Jori Hollander, Herman Lau, Yihyoung Li, Rita Marfoldi, Indi Martin, Savage Mojo, Dan Nokes, Alba Palacio, Fabian Parente, Claudio Pozas, Deanna Roberds, Gui Sommer, Julio Rocha, Phil Stone, Egil Thompson, Melissa Tillery, Jen Tracy, Kim Van Deun, Vinicius Werneck, Peter Woods, and Xanditz

We couldn't make this book without all the work done by Jessica Hancock, the business manager, and Xin Lewis, the publishing administrator—and of course Russ Morrissey the publisher and the mastermind behind A5E!

And finally, my heartfelt thanks to the thousands of kickstarter backers who turned this book into a real, physical thing that will grace gaming tables all over the world. May you delve deep and return to tell the tale!

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