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Barrowmaze: The Forbidden Caverns of the Archaia


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A fantastic new MEGADUNGEON for Labyrinth Lord and other Old School Role-Playing Games. Designed by Barrowmaze author Greg Gillespie.




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About this project

d0b8817f15b1f99be994e61c8f2ae4e2_originaThe Forbidden Caverns: Call to Adventure! By Zhu Bajie


Long ago, an ancient people, the Archians, built a thriving civilization in the shadow of a great mountain. Among their many accomplishments, they studied the dark mysteries of arcane energy. Through knowledge of the cosmos, they harnessed their innate magical abilities. They also created new types of magic and created extraordinarily powerful, and sometimes unpredictable, spells.

For a thousand years the Archians ruled their world. Until a great cataclysm befell their civilization. Some say they became reclusive, selfish, and lost themselves within the eldritch energies they studied. Others say that some Archian sorcerers grew in power and challenged their gods. One thing is known for sure -- their grand civilization came to an end. Lightning wracked the city from above and great earthquakes split the ground from below. The quakes swallowed the city into the ground and created a labyrinth of canyons and sunken ruins where a thriving civilization once stood. Finally, the great mountain exploded in an erruption of fire and brimstone that bombarded the city ruins and turned the once fertile region into a barren wasteland.

In the centuries that followed, the land remained lifeless.

Recent rumours suggest the desolate expanse around the lost city of Archaia has become a home for bands of orcs, goblins, and worse. They use the ruins to strike at nearby villages and raid caravan routes. Others think there is more to these groups than meets the eye...

Are you brave (or foolish) enough to enter The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia?


This Kickstarter campaign is designed to support the creation of a new megadungeon adventure called The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia (Forbidden Caverns or FCA).

Forbidden Caverns is designed for Labyrinth Lord but can be played with any Old School Role-Playing Game (or their clones) from the 70s and 80s such as B/X, First or Second edition, OSRIC, or Swords and Wizardry. This scenario can also be played with the DCC RPG with conversions.

This new medgadungeon adventure is designed to support a medieval fantasy campaign lasting months and years. FCA will support first through high level play.

I estimate the final draft to be between 180-250 pages and approximately 500-600 encounter areas. If you are unfamiliar with Barrowmaze Complete, that project was 259 pages in a two-column format (cover to cover) and well over 600 encounter areas (excluding the barrow mounds). PDF poster maps will be in both black and Old School blue.

Forbidden Caverns opens with a gazeteer of the region in which the adventure takes place. This includes a cultural history as well as the detailing of several small villages that provide a base of operations for an extended campaign. Like the mounds in Barrowmaze, Forbidden Caverns also provides some low hanging fruit above-ground to get wise players started. The project includes a large outdoor map of the canyon ruins with individual encounter areas broken down. The dungeon proper will be leveled and connected to the great mountain that looms on the horizon above the canyon ruins. This approach merges my own particular style with inspiration drawn modules like the Caves of Chaos and Night's Dark Terror.

My local gaming group is playtesting this adventure.

Remember prices are in Canadian Dollars so there's AWESOME SAVINGS for all my peeps in the United States and abroad. If you are unfamiliar, the 2015 average conversion for the year was $1.00 USD = 70 cents CAD. The average for the last year (June 2015 to June 2016) was $1.00 USD = .67 cents CAD (citation: bankofcanada.ca). 

Here are some samples from Barrowmaze Complete with the cover by ex-TSR artist Erol Otus. The cover and page samples represent the style you can expect with The Forbidden Caverns of the Archaia:

2f40bcdcca2175bcd95f4a2964abf7ef_originaBarrowmaze Complete Samples


My name is Dr. Greg Gillespie. I am an Associate Professor (Tenured) of Popular Culture at a university in Ontario, Canada. I regularly teach a senior undergraduate course entitled The History and Culture of Role-Playing Games (for realz). I am also the author/designer of a very popular Old School megadungeon called Barrowmaze Complete. You can read widely about Barrowmaze on the internet or you can find it here.

I have a very successful, crowdfunding track-record. I completed three crowdfunding campaigns over the last four years either on-time or ahead of schedule. You can find them on Indiegogo. Through my professional expertise, I know how to create, manage, and deliver outstanding game projects.


In my opinion, crafting an OSR dungeon is about much more than creating an adventure. It is about celebrating the origins of the hobby, the classic fantasy gaming experience, and understanding that dungeon crawling isn't supposed to be about long exhausting combats but rather an equal mix of exploration, combat, and role-play. These values are very important to me and find expression in both gameplay and aesthetics. Just like Barrowmaze, Forbidden Caverns will place a premium on amazing art. I will get the band back together including the talents of Cory Hamel, Zhu Bajie, Stefan Poag, Peter Pagano, Trevor Hammond, and Stephen Thompson.

Similar to Barrowmaze, every monster in the monster section will have its own illustration. In the past I have worked with former TSR artists Erol Otus, Jim Holloway, and Tim Truman. I hope to work with these and other TSR illustrators again on this project for a colour cover and also interior art.

Cory Hamel has created some fantastic concept illustrations over the time we have worked together to give you an idea of the aesthetic we have in mind for a few of the humanoid monsters. There's more to come!


9d3a858a71893c7a01802c26feead383_originaTroll by Cory Hamel


d491097b5f1de077ace0911239027cf8_originaBugbear by Cory Hamel


73b38a223ce5c155d68210cd79f2e039_originaOrcses by Cory Hamel

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