At the Mines of Madness: The Black Goat of the Woods

Back in early December of last year I mentioned taking an old 4th Edition campaign I ran, and turning it into a hefty set of locations and fronts for a very Lovecraftian Dungeon World. Currently it is at 40 pages, and nowhere near completion. What started out as essentially an adventure conversion has gone way off the rails; I have retained only the essence of the plot, changing the setting, cast, threats, and direction.

The new setting is more Bronze Age and Conan-esque in style, which I might just end up calling Eldritch World if it continues to spiral out of control and rack up a sufficiently large enough page count.

It both draws from and builds upon the concepts that I mentioned awhile back: there are walled city-states, and they need walls due to the crystalline eldritch prisons of the outer gods that orbit the world, raining down shards that allow aberrant horrors to enter reality. Their cults try to free them from these prisons, which are opposed by religious and/or psionic orders. Psionics are viewed as an acceptable and kind of necessary form of magic, as "normal" magic requires interacting with the dreaming outer gods or (more commonly) one of their servants.

Speaking of magic, I have never been satisfied with how magic works in Dungeons & Dragons, and while I appreciate that wizards in Dungeon World do not always lose their spells when cast it still cleaves too close to its original source--which itself does not cleave close enough to its inspiration--for comfort. So, one of the playbooks I am working on is based on another playbook I am working on (feel free to pitch in your own two cents), except that when you cast spells you can take damage, debilities, and/or gain madness.

The current mechanic allows the GM to spend accrued madness whenever she wants to cause a variety of effects based on what is fictionally appropriate/inconvenient for the characters, ranging from seeing things, rambling incoherently, attacking an ally, or even having an eldritch horror appear (or burst forth from your body). Hopefully it properly conveys an element of risk and unpredictability.

Anyway, back to writing ship-building rules for A Sundered World, city-states for whatever I end up calling this thing, and wrapping up the Vancomancer for digital publishing. Here are a few tidbits that pertain to one of the possible fronts, Shub-Niggurath:

Dark Young Large, Solitary, Terrifying
Tentacles and teeth (b[2d8] + 3 damage, 1 piercing) 18 HP 3 Armor
Close, Reach, Forceful
Special Qualities Blood draining bites
Great masses of writhing tentacles, drooling mouths, and hooves. Despite their great size, the shape of their silhouette allows them to blend in easily with trees, which is unfortunate as that is where they are usually found. They are sometimes worshiped in Shub-Niggurath's stead, readily accepting sacrifices on her behalf. Instinct: To blend in with the trees
  • Grab someone with its tentacles
  • Drain a creature's blood
  • Crush someone undearneath its hooves
NOTE: This is not the entire compendium class, just a kind of preview.

Compendium Class: Child of the Goat

When you study the Black Book (goatbook?), you can gain this move when you level up.

Contact the Black Goat Slow
You have learned a ritual that allows you to try and make contact with Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat in the Woods. When the time is right and you prepare a proper sacrifice for her, gain 1 madness and roll+INT. *On a 10+, the Black Goat is pleased with your offering: you can ask her any 3 questions you like. *On a 7-9, you can ask her any one 1 question.

If you have the move Contact the Black Goat, these count as class moves for you; you can choose from them when you level up:

Each time you gain a new move from this class, choose a mutation from the following list that you do not already have (or create your own):
[  ] Your feet turn into hooves.
[  ] Several mouths full of jagged teeth appear on your body.
[  ] Parts of your body become covered in coarse, black fur.
[  ] Your abdomen grows, and something seems to writhe within.
[  ] You grow a tentacle.
[  ] You grow a pair of goat horns.

Cloudy Form 1 Madness
Your body and everything you carry transforms into greasy black smoke for a few minutes. While you cannot affect anything, you also cannot be hurt and can squeeze through tiny openings.

Crushing Hooves
Requires: Hooves mutation
Your powerful hooves are capable of punching through armor, shattering shields, and even smashing down doors. When you kick with your hooves, deal your damage and the attack gains the Forceful tag.

Summon Dark Young Slow, 2 Madness
When you attempt to summon one of the Black Goat's dark young and bind it into service, roll+INT. *On a 10+, the dark young agrees to perform one service for you, and choose two. *On a 7-9, choose one:
  • It does not engage in wanton destruction.
  • It does not twist the wording of your instructions.
  • It will not seek to do you harm when the task is complete.


  1. Was this project ever finished? Seems like a very interesting supplement.

    1. @Lauri: The setting idea is something I plan to get around to eventually (I mention it again here:, just gotta wrap up some other stuff.

      I did put the Child of the Goat in The Cultist:


Powered by Blogger.