A fantasy adventure tabletop RPG, inspired by D&D 5e classes and monsters, but built with modern, narrative rules that strive for fluid gameplay, creative freedom, and a cinematic feel.
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What is Grimwild?

Grimwild is a streamlined, character-driven, cinematic fantasy RPG.

The goal with Grimwild is simple. Take D&D-inspired heroic fantasy, with its 12 classes and super tropey monsters, and match it up with a super fast, cinematic narrative rules system.

  • The rules are concerned with the dramatic over the realistic, and minimizing detailed tracking.
  • The game is very low-prep for the GM. The fiction maps to the rules simply, on-the-fly.
  • Designed to run in your own setting (or a published one), or use our pointcrawl exploration system and collaborative worldbuilding to create emergent storylines.
  • Characters earn XP for pursuing self-set goals, pushing the story in the direction they want.
  • The GM is given a clear GM framework of principles and moves to run the game by.
  • Get strong player buy-in with the adventuring party creation system and creative freedom for the players.
  • The rules create fluid action and gets rid of the mechanical slog that bogs down D&D.
  • And all of this with GREAT ART from artist Per Janke, creating a consistent vision throughout the book.

Curious to see more?   It's best explained by downloading the quickstart below and seeing how we've laid out the rules in a clear and concise manner that's easy to learn, with helpful character sheets full of rules references.

The rules are essentially finished. This is the game we've always wanted to play, and it's been a joy getting to make it. Now we want to introduce it to more.

This campaign will help fund the creation of the following:
  • Grimwild, a 200 page hardcover book. Includes solo rules built to work seamlessly with the system.
  • Exploration Deck, a 40-card deck used to randomize the pointcrawl exploration system in the book.
  • Nevermore, a 20-30 page zine. The detailed ruins of a creepy sanctum stocked with creative undead creatures
  • Gaelenvale, a 20-30 page zine. A cozy sandbox for new adventurers to explore.
  • Moxie dice, a set of 6d6 and 3d8 with color-coded sides that make reading roll results instant. Not only neat looking, they're a very function tool for play.

Have a look inside:

So who is Grimwild for?

  • D&D 5E players will appreciate the low-GM prep, easy-to-learn mechanics, and the focus on character goals and letting players push the story.
  • OSR/NSR players will enjoy the straightforward resolution system, sandbox-friendly gameplay, and ease of adapting modules from other systems. Lots of rollable tables help as well.
  • Narrative game players will like the fiction-first resolution system, with a focus on player agency, and narrative currency that fuels drama.

Why make this game?

Because it doesn't exist, really. This is an underserved niche. Dungeon World filled it for a long time, but the game has aged and feels clunky now. So we decided to make the game we wanted to play, and we think others want to play it, too.


Key Features

Grimwild has a lot going on inside, but here's an overview of big-picture stuff. We'll talk about mechanics later.

  • All 12 classes from D&D: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorceror, Warlock, Wizard. With familiar abilities, re-imagined for a narrative rules system.
  • New Take on 100 Classic Monsters: We detail and give advice on creating encounters that make the monsters a part of the story, not just meatbags of hit points to chew through.
  • Adventure SeedsNo preparation required scenarios that create evolving situations, not railroaded plots. These are more kits for your creativity than they are storylines, filled with evocative prompts and timers that create developing situations for you to tell your own stories, not ours.
  • Homebrew-friendly system: Built on our open licensed (CC-BY) ruleset, Moxie.  It's designed to be cinematic, narrative, and most importantly modular. This makes changing rules to your liking simple.


Gameplay Overview

The easiest way to get a clear understanding of the Grimwild mechanics is to download the preview. It has the entire rule system in it. But here are some highlights that show off unique aspects of the system:

  • Base system:  Roll d6 dice pools and keep the highest die to determine how well things went.  The GM adds d8s called thorns to represent difficulty. When they come up as a 7 or 8, it cuts your results down a notch. A critical always beats thorns, though, so the PCs can always gain the upper hand.
  • Freeform Magic: Cast magic on the fly—the spell names, god domains, or details of a song give you limitations and permissions on what you can cast. Just say what you want to happen, then use the simple magic rules to cast the spell. No long spell lists, no memorizing, no opening the book to reference it.
  • PC Bonds: Form bonds with the other PCs, like playful camaraderie, solid rivalry, or tense mistrust. When you help an ally out, you roll your bond, not your stats!
  • Add Details: You can declare details to add into the story, about your character's gear, backstory, the elements around you in a scene, the behaviors of NPCs, and more. Particularly impactful details require you to spend spark, points you earn from facing adversity and getting up to trouble.
  • Vex: When you get hit with fear, confusion, or other emotional turmoil, you keep control over your PC's actions.  A simple system of choosing fight, flight, freeze, or freakout turns previously boring moments of losing control into a chance for you to play up the struggle they go through the way you want.


The Core Game: Book, Deck, & Dice

The Book

Grimwild is a 200-page 6x9" (trade) hardcover designed with a clean and concise layout. It features clear rules with examples and minimal fluff, making it easy to learn and reference, while keeping the page count in check. It's built for ease-of-use. It will be fully indexed and the PDF will be bookmarked and internally hyperlinked in detail for ease-of-use.

The Character Sheets

The sheets have all the class abilities right on them, making it easy for new players to pick up and use and incredibly useful during play. If you print them double sided, you can even fold them into a little booklet with rules references on the back.

The sheets themselves contain all of the rules of the game built right into them.

Specs: 8.5x11", US Letter Size paper. PDF-only (mockup below is just to demonstrate the concept)

The Exploration Deck (and Pointcrawl Exploration system)

The key to exploration is discovery, and the surprise and joy it can bring. Our pointcrawl system focuses in on wandering along paths and finding new points, then laying them out spatially but non-precisely, allowing connections between points with paths in interesting ways. As you explore, you are prompted with different hazards, challenges, and discoveries— these are opportunities to collaboratively brainstorm what you might find, then work it into your map.

The Exploration Deck transfers the information from the books into cards, the perfect randomizer for such exploration. It's fast and physical, and feels like exploration. The deck includes additional prompts not in the book. After you pull several cards, you re-insert them into the deck and shuffle. When they come up again, it triggers events to occur in those previously explored regions, keeping the sandbox dynamic and interesting.

Specs: A 40-card, poker-sized deck in a tuckbox.

Moxie Dice

(Artist interpretation, but very similar to the final result)

These dice are engraved and hand-painted, with the colors mapping to the roll results in the system.  The colors make the roll results instantly readable for everyone, making each roll an event that pulls you in even more.

UPDATE: All dice sets expanded to come with an extra 2d6 and 2d8 (for a total of 8d6 and 4d8)!

Specs:  16mm. Engraved resin. 6d6 (6: green, 4-5: yellow, 1-3: gray.) and 3d8 (1-6: gray, 7-8: red)


The Modules: Nevermore and Gaelenvale


Gaelenvale is a countryside valley, home to the sleepy town of Gaelen. It's a place for new adventurers to start making a name for themselves. They can explore the local area as they please, and seek opportunities for adventure and mischief. GMs will find a compact sandbox geared for player exploration, filled with narrative hooks for them to pursue. It's the perfect way to start your Grimwild campaign and to learn the ropes of playing (and running) Grimwild.

Specs: 20-30 page saddle stitch zine. Full color illustrations.

  • Open sandbox: Gaelenvale is a compact sandbox. Open for your players to choose their own path, but easy for a GM to manage.
  • The town of Gaelen: It's districts, important buildings, major NPCs, and internal conflicts. It's a place your players can shape the future of and will learn to call home.
  • Sandbox locations: 10+ sandbox locations, from old forts to watermills, with quest hooks and conflicts to solve.
  • Cosy feel: A countryside setting that's perfect for chill game nights and introducing players to Grimwild.


North of Gaelenvale, lies the Nevermore. A ruin mentioned only in whispers, the site was once majestic sanctum to an avatar of undeath. For centuries, it has offered little more than strange lights and faint screams, but something has awakened within the Nevermore. Sinister forces long forgotten now seek what lies within. Can they be stopped? Nevermore presents a dark scenario that will test characters resolve and cunning. GMs will find an unsettling necromantic sanctum filled with horrors that push players characters, from terrifying creatures to more insidious threats.

Specs: 20-30 page saddle stitch zine. Full color illustrations.

  • The Nevermore: The detailed ruins of a creepy sanctum stocked with creative undead creatures.
  • A rival party: The agents of a cult are set on finding what lies within the Nevermore, and are powerful antagonists to give your players a run for their money.
  • Open scenario: Players can explore the Nevermore however they like, the Nevermore is a mini-sandbox!
  • Ever-present danger: Nevermore ensure tense game nights, and provides an optional continuation of Gaelenvale that ramps up the tension.


Timeline & Team

For digital rewards, you should be receiving them in November 2024.  For physical rewards, they should arrive in March 2025. These are estimates. Take a look below to see our current timeline.

Here's an overview on the current progress. 
  • Core Game Design: 80%.   Remaining design centers around the monsters and pointcrawl exploration system.
  • Art & Layout: 90%.  These are completed and we design directly into layout, meaning this will not add any substantial time to the process.  Art has already been completed, though we may add a little more.
  • Module Design: 25%.  The bulk of the work remaining lies here, which needed the final system before it could move forward. The art is finished and the modules are reasonably sized, so these will move forward quickly.

The timeline towards completion and delivery of rewards looks like this:
  • Q3 2024: Updates to the preview document sent out to get testing and feedback on the entire game before heading to print.
  • Q4 2024: Full game PDF of Grimwild, Nevermore, and Gaelenvale finalized and sent to backers. Print order placed.
  • Q1 2025: Printer ships books and fulfillment begins
  • Q1 - Q2 2025: Game arrives at your house.

The Team

We're a small group, but we all wear a bunch of fun hats.

J.D. Maxwell, Designer of Grimwild. J.D. is a freelance layout designer from Portland, Oregon. He's bummed around tabletop and board game design communities for a decade and is now putting those skills to good use. He makes a mean pizza and is always covered in cat hair.

Per Janke, Artist for Grimwild, Nevermore, and Gaelenvale. Per is a Berlin based freelance Illustrator and Concept Artist who makes an above average espresso and has a passion for books, history and TTRPGs. He’s always on the hunt for weird settings and lore to visualize. (Insta)

Luke Saunders, Designer of Nevermore and Gaelenvale. Luke is a game designer, writer, and layout artist based in the U.K. He’s the lead creator at Murkdice (another indie RPG publisher). He likes to contemplate game design while doing a sea swim, and lives out of a rucksack.

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