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Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire: An Interview With Jordon Gibson (Ghostfire Gaming)

Ghostfire Gaming is making waves on Kickstarter. With the third installment in their Grim Hollow line of dark fantasy 5e projects, they’re adding monsters to their setting. With three Kickstarters, they’ve generated enough combined revenues to put them in the million dollar crowdfunding club. Jordon Gibson, CEO of Ghostfire Gaming, agreed to answer my questions about their latest Kickstarter, what makes a Grim Hollow monster, and what they’re working on Eldermancy with.
Grim Hollow- The Monster Grimoire 02.png
EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. You have a new project on Kickstarter, what is Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire?
JORDON GIBSON (JORDON)
: Not a problem, Egg. Thank you too. Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire is the third installment of our Grim Hollow publications. It is a book of 400 dark fantasy themed monsters designed for 5e. We include all sorts of additional useful features; like salvage mechanics, players can attain more from nature checks, as well as guidance for GM’s on how to run encounters in a dark fantasy setting. It’s a massive book!

EGG: So far, you’ve kickstarted two Grim Hollow projects, The Campaign Guide for 5th Edition and The Players Guide with 4,523 backers and 9,138 backers, respectively. These are fantastic numbers of backers. In your opinion, what about Grim Hollow attracts so many followers?
JORDON
: I believe a large part is the appeal of a 5e setting that isn’t the typical high fantasy setting like Forgotten Realms. Over the past several years we have seen a lot of Forgotten Realms from WoTC, and I think people (at least our backers) just want something different.

EGG: What makes your fantasy setting dark fantasy?
JORDON
: Etharis – our setting – presents a lot of tropes from dark fantasy, but the one we lean on the most is “The world is dangerous”. It’s one thing to outline the threats within a setting throughout it’s lore and state danger. However, if the players do not feel this in the game it becomes a bit like a broken promise and the immersion starts to fall apart. We know that the elements that make a setting dark fantasy or even horror are hard to do in 5e, so we also offer a lot of guidance and mechanics on how to achieve this, without needing to change system.

EGG: You’re doing over 400 monsters in the new project, which is a, um, beastly number. What makes for a good Grim Hollow monster?
JORDON
: Haha Thank you! We love a good monster, so the more the merrier. Well, beyond the obvious, that they need to be gribbly enough to fit a setting like Etharis, they need to be a bit of a puzzle. What I mean is that if the party wants to engage them the same way they do with all monsters, they will have a tough time. We bake this into the monsters stats, but also provide guidance for the GM on how to play it in combat. An example of this would be the Putrefaction Slug. It is a small sized (so large for a slug!) acid spitting slug. It has stats and guidance for running it, as well as a salvage section detailing what can be harvested from it, and a lore section detailing what the party can learn about it. For example, with a DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check, a player can determine that “The slug’s digestive acid softens tissue, making it’s victims vulnerable to crushing and tearing. Water helps dilute this acid.”.

EGG: You mention that there’s new treasures for these monsters, can you give an example of a Grim Hollow beast and the PC’s reward for defeating it?
JORDON
: Yeah absolutely! It’s a bit of a mouthful though, so how about I show you. So using the Putrefaction Slug again, if you turned to its page in the Monster Grimoire you would see the following:
“Putrefaction Slugs ignore what they can’t devour, making any treasure they possess incidental. But the glands that generate their digestive acid are prized by alchemists. Removing an intact slug gland requires a successful DC 12 Intelligence (Nature) or Wisdom (Medicine) check. Once removed, the gland must be preserved in alcohol or similar preservative agents. Using four such glands, a person can create a more potent version of acid that renders a target that takes damage from the acid vulnerable to bludgeoning damage until the end of the thrower’s next turn. These enhanced acids are called sluggers, cost 40 gp, and weigh the same as a standard vial of acid. Creating a slugger requires proficiency with alchemist supplies and a successful DC 13 Intelligence check to use them in a process that takes 4 hours. Failure creates normal acid, while failure by 5 or more renders a useless result.”
We have done this with all monsters within the book. Although, some monsters are not harvestable because they are NPC style monsters and harvesting them would be a bit too dark. Instead we provide likely loot they could be carrying.

Grim Hollow- The Monster Grimoire 03.jpg
EGG: Ghostfire Gaming helps publish other Kickstarter projects like those under Eldermancy: The Seeker's Guide to Twisted Taverns and Stibbles Codex of Companions. What are those projects about and how do they fit into Ghostfire’s publishing strategy?
JORDON
: Yeah, so Eldermancy is an example of our Forged with Ghostfire program we have been running. This is where we assist other creators with their projects depending on their needs. There is a lot that comes into creating a successful Kickstarter and then delivering on it, some of which is much easier for us to achieve because we have the established infrastructure. It can be pretty small, like manufacturing agreements to assist with the engineering of a product, or substantial, like our publishing agreement with Eldermancy, where we do everything other than the manuscript. It’s a case by case scenario really. Our capacity on the program is booked out for the short term, but we are expanding it to accommodate for more in the future. If anyone is curious and would like to enquire about this program, they can do so at business@ghostfiregaming.com

EGG: Who is writing, editing, and providing the art for this project?
JORDON
: The Lead Designer for Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire is the incredibly talented Shawn Merwin. Shawn joined us at Ghostfire Gaming late last year and we couldn’t be happier with his involvement. The Art Director on the project is also inhouse, and someone we absolutely love creating with; Suzanne Helmigh. The community might recognise her from many previous D&D books, as well as Magic: The Gathering, and Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn. Lastly, we have Chris Sims working on development and other various editing roles. Chris is a perfect fit for a project like this, considering he worked on Wizards’ 5e Monster Manual. We are very excited to be working with Chris again!

EGG: Beyond the book, you’re offering miniatures and other tabletop goodies. Not to say these aren’t valid, but why is Ghostfire Gaming focusing on extras instead of, say, more books?
JORDON
: Haha Honestly, our mantra has always been to create the things that get us excited! We love the immersion good tabletop goodies bring to games and as a result may be a little biased towards them. The hope is at least though that by making things we are passionate about, it will resonate with others like us. It’s working so far, but maybe there is something to say about us focusing on a few more books per year?

EGG: Your books are finding their audience, so it’s clear you’re doing the right thing. Beyond this project, what else is Ghostfire Gaming working on?
JORDON
: We are finishing up the last of the illustrations for The Seeker’s Guide to Twisted Taverns, and are excited to have that finished for Eldermancy. We also hired the incredibly talented James Haeck earlier this year to work on our new project code named ‘Fables’. We can’t go into much detail at this point, but he has been making great headway, and we are excited to announce it later this year!

EGG: Thanks for talking with me. Where can fans find more about Ghostfire and this project?
JORDON
: Thank you Egg, it was a pleasure! Fans can find our latest project Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire on Kickstarter, or check out our other products on our website. Thanks again!

Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire from Ghostfire Gaming
  • End Date: Sat, May 22 2021 10:00 AM EDT.
  • “A dark fantasy fuelled instalment of 400 monsters, from the dangerous world of Etharis - designed for 5th Edition
Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG and Amazon.
 

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry

I am happy because now there is a golden age for D&D, even better than the 3.5 Ed. age but now I start to worry because maybe we are closing to a saturation. There are lots of new settings by 3PPs and this is wonderful, but most of them are going to fall in the oblivion. How many of these titles will be translated into other languanges? Some of them franchises if they were published as videogames they may become true cash-cows for those videogame-studios.

I wonder about if kickstarter has got some list of settings published for D&D 5th to recover them in the memory.
 

Ghost2020

Adventurer
I am happy because now there is a golden age for D&D, even better than the 3.5 Ed. age but now I start to worry because maybe we are closing to a saturation. There are lots of new settings by 3PPs and this is wonderful, but most of them are going to fall in the oblivion. How many of these titles will be translated into other languanges? Some of them franchises if they were published as videogames they may become true cash-cows for those videogame-studios.

I wonder about if kickstarter has got some list of settings published for D&D 5th to recover them in the memory.
It absolutely is a golden that exceeds the 3.x era, in quality and quantity.

WotC, much like last time, is either doing nostalgia (Ravenloft\Salt Marsh, etc) or rule companions. Which is fine, it's needed and good stuff.

The really interesting stuff is coming from 3PP. The genre derivations on 5e are great: Esper Genesis, Spy Game, Amazing Adventures 5e, Ultramodern 5 (and the settings!), etc. The Grim Hollow campaign setting is one of my new favorites. Hell, one could play it by itself or tack it on to Ravenloft if they wanted.

I do believe I am personally reaching saturation though. I am hitting max level on settings, adventures, magic and monster books. Oh man, I love them, but shelf space is becoming an issue. Also, time to utilize all these great books is at a premium.

I've begun to slow down on KS or just get PDFs as I still want the product, and to support the creators, but can't always find room for the big books.

It's a great time to be into 5e!
 

There are lots of new settings by 3PPs and this is wonderful, but most of them are going to fall in the oblivion.
Right. I had no idea about this company or the Grim Hollow setting.
The really interesting stuff is coming from 3PP.
This setting looks nice, especially this monster book and Im on the fence about backing it, but the May 2022 ship date and the $19.99 S&H is putting me off, though I can understand the high shipping cost as its coming from Australia. Got a few more days to decide.
 


EthanSental

Adventurer
This Kickstarter is up to over 11k in backers…they keep pulling in more people with each Kickstarter. That $110 level with the miniature selection stands out so I’m curious how long those will take since minis from China are a finicky think time line wise.
 

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