Chthonic Codex is a monster manual, a bunch of spells and caster-related rules and a campaign setting inspired by stuff you would rather not know. Browse the Chthonic Codex inspiration gallery if you want to grok it better.
It took 15 months to complete the draft of the first volume. Fifteen months because, while it started as a monsters + setting book, it then grew to become a smorgasbord of setting details and buckets of magic-related new game mechanics. We are talking 180-200 pages there. Then, realizing that finishing a 180 pages book would take me ages, I sliced in three volumes.
Cryptic Creatures is the first volume. It features more than 30 monsters (it’s not fully finalized), so at we are talking at least 66 pages. The contents are the brainchild of me working with Christopher Stanley, which did all the interior illustrations. The cover art is by Claire Maclean. Each spread has a full page illustration on the verso and, on the facing recto, a fragment of the Codex itself and the stats for the monster, for AFG, Swords & Wizardry and other retroclones. Spreads looks like this, click to download the Cephalopod, a new monster and playable race:
The text above is not final, by the way.
The second volume, Academia Apocripha, deals with the Great Schools of Magic under the Valley of Fire, their students and their secret arts. And more than enough new spells to completely replace the standard spell list. And a couple of new classes, and adaptation of existing AFG spells for S&W and other retroclones. In a way it’s the player’s handbook of the setting.
The third volume, Mysteries & Mystagogues, details the Hypogea of the Valley of Fire. The book will feature mysteric cults and relative shenanigans, magic research, hypogean curios of both the artefact and the natural varieties, the Apotheosis of the Grand Sorcerer of the Valley of Fire and CHTHONOTRON, the Hypogea Generator.
And mana-tar. There’s a sea of iridescent magic tar under the Hypogea of the Valley of Fire. the mana-tar stirs and changes, chasing our thoughts and our dreams.
At any rate, Cryptic Creatures will ship this November in PDF and Print+PDF.
Now, what about the other volumes? And the deluxe editions?
Yes. I’m going to release this baby in two different deluxe editions, provisionally for 35$+s/h each.
One of the deluxe editions is going to be a boxed set. The shape and style of the boxed set is not certain at the moment. This is because for some reason getting a quote from boxmakers is a nightmare. But I have at least three alternatives, and only one of them is to make boxes by hand.
The other deluxe edition is going to be a handbound book. I decided for a coptic binding because it both fits the setting and spreads completely open when laid flat on the table. Depending on the final layout and budget it could still be possible to have the book bound in dragon skin. *
All deliverables (the second and third volumes and the spiffy versions) will be released before April. In the meantime whoever purchased either the boxed set or the bound book will have access to drafts and prerelease versions. And of course I might be late, and that is the nature of projects.
[*]: not real dragon, actually soft, tanned salmon skin, but still looking creepily scaly.