Unnatural Selection: An Interview With Bunni Daniel (Dungeon Damsel Creations)

Shadowdark is a modern OSR fantasy RPG system that is growing in popularity. Starting with 13,249 backers and over a million dollars worth of funding on Kickstarter, this system is inspiring designers as I shared in a recent RPG crowdfunding roundup. One of those designers, Bunni Daniel of Dungeon Damsel Creations, agreed to talk about her Shadowdark project running on Backerkit, Unnatural Selection: A Supplement for use with Shadowdark. We discuss what made Shadowdark the right system for create for, what she’s creating, what artwork she’s crafted, and more.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): Let’s start with the obvious question, what is Unnatural Selection?
BUNNI DANIEL (BUNNI)
: Of course! Unnatural Selection is likely the first a premium 3rd party supplement to the Shadowdark RPG [UPDATED 2023-09-15 to emphasize that this project is an offering among many premium 3rd party supplements]. It adds two major aspects – the untamed wilds of nature and the underbelly of society. The book brings 6 new classes, including a necromancer class called the Grave Warden, a druid class called the Ovate, a Beastmaster, Plague Doctor, the Fiend, and the Shaman. It expands on everything you need to run campaigns and one-offs in both of those worlds, including animals, monsters, a gauntlet adventure, weapons and gear, magic items and even new carousing rules.

EGG: This sourcebook could have been for any system. You decided on Shadowdark, an RPG that reached over a million dollars in funding and is out in digital but not print (should be out in October). What about Shadowdark spoke to you?
BUNNI
: First, my partner and I prefer OSR rules systems, and we had played a lot of Basic Fantasy and original AD&D. Shadowdark simplified the rules even further, and yet added just the right amount of the intuitive modern rules (like rolling with advantage and disadvantage) and applied them to a, “You could die at any moment” system. We also fell in love with the torch rules because we both WANT to feel afraid. We want to feel like we are out of our element and treading in deep and foreboding territory. The torch rules* NAIL that feeling.
*NOTE: The torches rule is “torches only last one hour of real time.”

Grave Warden by Ian MacLean.png

EGG: You mentioned the new class, the Grave Warden. What can you share about this class?
BUNNI
: Lots! You can actually download a Quickstart Guide from my website, but the gist is that it’s a necromancer class with an emphasis on using corpses as the major spell component. There are rules that favor the use of a scythe to incentivize players to represent the creepy aesthetic of a classic necromancer.

EGG: That fits the idea of Shadowdark perfectly. On the campaign pitch page, you mention “rules for all new elements.” What will these options entail?
BUNNI
: Crafting your own torches, the new carousing that I mentioned, and chanting are perfect examples of these. Since one of our classes is the Shaman, there are rules for taking your party on a plant medicine-induced vision quest complete with all of the purging and transformation you might expect. The Shaman also introduces a new type of spellcasting; chanting. In this case, you are drumming, chanting, and using a shaker to cast spells that enchant your entire party or affect all of your foes. It results in the ultimate support class.

FELWRAAK by Marin Zavala.png

EGG: You’re adding 65 monsters. What are some of the big bruisers that will make the players fear for their character’s survival?
BUNNI
: I think we’re almost up to 100 new creatures by now. But, we’re filling in for any monsters not included in the original sourcebook, including blink dogs and shriekers. Then we’re filling in all of the major animals, giant insects, a giant kong-like ape, giant insects queens, and lots more so that our ovate and beastmaster have everything at their disposal. But we’re also adding some of our own monsters and fearsome foes like the tumble maw, tentacle worm, vinewraith, and the felwraak which is a race of wicked wolf-like creatures with exposed skulls. You can see one such beast on the cover of the Special Edition of Unnatural Selection, specifically Vaelthar the Untamed, father of the night!

EGG: Wow, over 100! That’s awesome! Let’s talk about where the might be put to use. What’s the plot of the zero level gauntlet?
BUNNI
: In the gloomy city of Blighthaven, the destitute residents survive on scraps, and there always seems to be a plague gripping the region. But, there is an underground trial that offers a very faint glimmer of hope. Through a lottery, residents willingly enter a labyrinth of death for a remote chance to escape and win enough gold to start a new life. The wealthy place high-stakes wagers on the fates of the participants, and the chosen few will even encounter crowds of onlookers as they make their way through the dungeon.

Unnatural_Selection_Six_RACES by Mark Lyons.png

EGG: Who is working on this with you?
BUNNI
: My partner, Kevin Sheller, handles the majority of the writing and book layout. He is a 22-year video game industry veteran, so he knows game design. Greg Spanier is the author of the clever and entertaining gauntlet adventure. He has owned a game store for over 10 years and is a marvelous DM. Then our artists are top notch! A master of the OSR style, Mark Lyons, has created artwork for Old-School Essentials and the original Shadowdark RPG sourcebook. Others include Marvel legend Mark McKenna, Ian MacLean, John Muller, Rick Hershey, Cameron Maas (maps), and Martin Zavala.

EGG: This book has amazing artwork. How much of the art is by you?
BUNNI
: Thank you! I have done a number of the pieces that have been showcased so far, including the cover of the black book, the Grave Warden, Beastmaster, the two Shaman images, and some spot art. The amazing drawing of the original six ancestries was by Mark Lyons, who also did the cover of the Special Edition book. We’re very proud of all of the artists who have contributed (and are continuing to create!)

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EGG: Layouts have taken on a new level of importance in TTRPGs including the Origin Awards added a “Graphic Design” category started in 2023 and the Ennie Award for “Best Layout and Design” since 2019. With your eye for art, what are your goals for the layouts on this book?
BUNNI
: We’re adhering to the original layout and design from the Shadowdark RPG as much as possible so that readers feel the seamless transition between ours and the sourcebook. However, we are also expanding this to feature the talents of our artists wherever possible.

EGG: You’re crowdfunding this on Backerkit. Why that platform over Kickstarter or IndieGoGo?
BUNNI
: We had the opportunity to meet up with the Backerkit folks at Gen Con and we were very impressed. From the start, we knew we wanted to work with Backerkit on marketing the product anyway. It didn’t make sense to use Kickstarter when everything could be handled in one place. Not only that, but with Backerkit you are assigned a representative who is always available through email to answer any questions. Since this was one of our first crowdfunding campaigns, it was invaluable to have that resource throughout the process. Does Kickstarter even offer a service like this? Not that we’ve heard of…

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EGG: Beyond Unnatural Selection, what else are you working on?
BUNNI
: Isn’t this enough!? Just kidding. We are very focused on this project; being Dungeon Damsel’s very first publication. However, we have identified what our next projects will be, and we’re excited to unveil them, but that unveiling probably won’t happen until 1Q 2024.

EGG: For fans interested in learning more about your work, where can they find you on the web?
BUNNI
: They can download the Quickstart Guide here. Also, my YouTube channel. And of course, check out our Backerkit.

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Unnatural Selection: A Supplement for use with Shadowdark from Dungeon Damsel Creations
  • End Date: Sep 21, 2023 at 9:00pm EDT.
  • “A supplement of classes, ancestries, adventures and more for use with the Shadowdark RPG
Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.
 
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Egg Embry

Egg Embry


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
We also fell in love with the torch rules because we both WANT to feel afraid. We want to feel like we are out of our element and treading in deep and foreboding territory. The torch rules* NAIL that feeling
And: agreed.

Was looking for these in the article but couldn't find:
Does Shadowdark use the D&D 5 open license?
Does Unnatural Selection also use that, or a separate Shadowdark license?
Is Egg short for Aegon? 🤓
 




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