The World Below

The World Below

A tabletop roleplaying game of subterranean fantasy, horror, and exploration.
$60,340 🎉
of $30,000 (USD) goal
Project Ended
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Do not concern yourself with what’s above you. From here on out, the only way forward is down.

The World Below provides. But you must dig. You must explore. You must map. You must build. You must defend. The World Below provides, but only to the worthy. 

Your surroundings are horrific and wondrous. Extract gemstones and find natural springs of nourishing water, but be cautious: excavate too far, and you’ll wake the creatures in the walls, the caves, and the Dark.

The World Below is a game of adversity, heroism, terror, and awe. Your characters will overcome or be defeated by terrible beasts, environmental calamities, and Kaos storms ravaging their surroundings and the souls around them. They will chart their journeys, chronicle their tales, and pass their stories down to their descendants, who will in turn become your characters when your old ones perish or retire.

Expect threats and risks, joys, and discoveries. The World Below promises a hard, harsh existence, but when the light of hope gleams in the thick darkness, it feels as bright as the sun.

Unified Only to Survive

Gloom and impenetrable darkness fill the caverns of the World Below, hiding beasts and predators waiting to feed on unwary denizens. Guilds form around the business of curating knowledge of safe spaces, finding food, and studying the World Below. People equip themselves with what they can to survive, bedecking themselves in insect carapaces, woven plants, and silks. They arm themselves with fangs, bones, claws, and ores fashioned as blades and hammers. 

Deep in the lowest mapped point of the World Below is the Well — an endless energy source that generates violet light, purifies water, and blooms hearty foodstuffs. This Well is guarded by entities known only as the Well Liches, who do not share their spoils lightly. The lifespring of this Well is called Kaos, and it radiates out beyond the Well Liches’ reach. When heroes raid the Well for power, they find themselves with a dilemma: Do I keep the power to myself or share it with the worthy?

A Multi-Faceted World

The World Below has many facets, from exotic settlements to abandoned temples and dungeons inhabited with monstrous predators and glittering wonders. Caverns ripped from alien worlds and portals to bizarre dimensions are hidden just behind a wall, down a pit, or buried within a lost city. New magics, technologies, treasures, and secrets await discovery. 

Your tale may see you mapping a simple cave complex as you seek out gold ore for your settlement’s smiths, or a noble’s whims, or as a method of enriching yourself. Or perhaps you intend something loftier and more complex, such as breaking into a centuries-sealed tomb to seize a weapon purported to weaken the Well Liches and redistribute their hoarded wealth and power among the needy. 


The World Below provides. But you must dig. You must explore. You must map. You must build. You must defend. 

The World Below provides, but only to the worthy. 

The unworthy fall, consumed by bugs, lava, acidic fog, the vagaries of Kaos, and the World Below’s convulsing tunnels.

The World Below is your home, your prison, and your alien world containing terrible threats and wondrous discoveries.

The World Below is a complete tabletop roleplaying game, and includes:

  • Numerous playable options, some from the traditional fantasy mold, others unique to the World Below.
  • The complete Storypath Ultra System, allowing you to play this game straight from the book. 
  • A myriad of settings, monsters, powers, and abilities for use in your stories, which you can play as minimalist dungeon crawls or World Below-spanning expeditions.

This book contains the following chapters, providing you everything you need to establish your corner of the World Below, your characters within it, and your tales of heroic deeds and dire ends:

  • Chapter One: The Initial Descent - This chapter provides a short introduction to every key aspect of The World Below, from its strata and inhabitants, to its slang and colloquialisms. This is the place to start if you’re new to the game and looking to find your feet.

  • Chapter Two: Paths into the World Below - Within this chapter, you’ll read about the many Dawns, Dialectics, and Callings in The World Below, along with the Skills and other rewards to which these Paths give you access.

  • Chapter Three: Character Creation - This chapter takes you through the process of creating your characters for the World Below, taking information from the prior chapter and putting it into practice. It also contains five sample characters, simple breakdowns of character creation, and rules for applying Experience.

  • Chapter Four: Game Systems - The Game Systems chapter breaks down exactly how to play games of The World Below, with summaries of each Skill and Attribute, how to apply Complications and Enhancements, and how to structure scenes, including action-adventure, investigations, and influencing others. 

  • Chapter Five: Survival Systems - The Survival Systems chapter explains the various tags one might apply to weapons and armor, provides an equipment list so you can arm yourself for the quest ahead, and studies and outlines the Kalm phase of gameplay, where characters receive their Experience and grow their habitats and families.

  • Chapter Six: Thesis and Synthesis - This chapter details the heroic talents inhabitants of the World Below possess as a result of their Dawns and Dialectics. Theses and Syntheses allow characters to excel in subtle and overt ways, through the manipulation of Kaos, the elements, and the Abyss. 

  • Chapter Seven: Kaotic Sorcery- Kaos is the lifeblood of the World Below, and this chapter explains how player characters of different Callings channel Kaos through Sorceries. The chapter also covers how to handle unpredictable Kaotic Retaliations and Kaos Rituals.

  • Chapter Eight: The World Below - This chapter describes the setting details of the World Below. From mysteries of the dogmas and ancestries, to dangerous realms on the edge of existence, this chapter is packed with useful, inspiring information for any player or Storyguide.

  • Chapter Nine: Storyguide Wisdom - The Storyguide chapter puts the power in the Storyguide’s hands, as it details adventure hooks and World Below locations, community building and generational play, along with thorough advice on how to run a terrifying adventure game.

  • Chapter Ten: Dangers in the World Below - This chapter provides traits for a huge number of horrifying antagonists and their Antitheses, along with environmental hazards, and guidance on how to increase the mounting tension in this fantasy game.

  • Appendix: Subsystems and Tables - This chapter contains optional systems a Storyguide and player group familiar with this game and its system may wish to use to augment their gameplay, from rules for exploration and excavation, to cartography and realm building. 


The World Below uses the Storypath Ultra system, which enables characters to be competent at what they do, while also presenting challenges with real consequences for both failure and success. The only reason to pick up the dice and roll is when the result of their actions carries uncertainty, and failure might push the story in a new or different direction. If that’s the case, the process is simple:

You can download a free outline of the Storypath Ultra system <here>.

Matthew Dawkins, the Gentleman Gamer (and developer of The World Below), shares some informative videos on YouTube. 

You can access a two-part podcast series that breaks down building a World Below character using the Storypath Ultra system here: <PART 1> and <PART 2>

  • Settlements and communities exist everywhere in the World Below, populated by people of varying dogmas, ancestries, and guilds. Despite this, all its denizens share one cause: survival and protecting one’s own. Everyone has their own origin and aim, and they call these their Dawns. Characters may possess many as they grow in experience.

  • Adventurers interacting with the phenomena of the World Below find their spirits and minds changing through a development known as the Dialectic, where a character’s attunement to and understanding of an energy or element allows them to work wonders. 

  • Characters have a destined role, their Callings. Whether a Hunter riding grand insects into battle or scouting safe tunnels for their family, a Silhouette creeping through the caves to deliver a lethal shot to a target, or a Kaosist manipulating raw magic through their body and mind, all Callings have their place.

ACCESS TO DRAFT MANUSCRIPT UPDATES – During the course of the campaign, we will be posting the ENTIRE manuscript for The World Below. These previews will be shared via Backer-Only updates. You must be a backer of this project to receive these updates.

THE WORLD BELOW PDF VERSION - The digital version of The World Below, fulfilled by our partners at Kickstarter backers will receive redemption links for an early version of this book before it goes on sale to the public. This initial "Advance Version" will be used to get feedback from the fans to make the final version the best that it can be. When it has been updated to the final version, it will automatically be added to your DriveThruRPG library and available for download at your convenience.

THE WORLD BELOW HARDCOVER BOOKS - The main goal of this campaign is to fund the creation, production, and print run of a standard and limited edition deluxe hardcover editions of this book. Note that all Reward Tiers that include the physical hardcover version also include the digital PDF version as a bonus. Shipping costs ARE NOT included in the cost of your pledge. You will be charged for shipping after the campaign through the pledge manager.

OPTIONAL DISCOUNTED PoD VERSION – For this World Below campaign, you will have the option of using’s Print-On-Demand service to purchase a physical, printed copy of the PDF directly from their PoD partners at discounted cost (this cost is not included in your pledge, and you do not need to increase the cost of your pledge to use this option). When the PoD versions are available to order (which may be some time after the books have gone to print), you will receive links to purchase these versions of the books from You DO NOT need to take advantage of this PoD offer as it does not affect in any way your pledge rewards.

In addition to the rewards listed in each Pledge Tier, backers can add extra options via the Add On menu associated with your reward format. Digital Rewards can be added to any pledge, while physical rewards can only be added to rewards lists that include a version of The World Below hardcover book, and will therefore have a shippable order when information is downloaded in the fulfillment system.

The primary purpose behind this crowdfunding campaign is to enable Onyx Path to create a fully-developed PDF and two hardcover versions of The World Below. With your support we create a standard full-color hardcover book, which will be sent out as a reward to backers and also made available to game and hobby stores through Onyx Path's distribution partners.  In addition, we want to create a limited edition deluxe version, with special cover design featured on a leatherette cover and a bound-in bookmark that'll be available only through a special pledge tier.

Exceptional funding may allow the World Below team to investigate and describe the unusual ecologies in the World Below in further detail, or even outline some adventure scenarios and story paths to pursue in your game. Additional support will provide Onyx Path with inspiration and resources to unlock even more reward options!  

Beyond those campaign-specific goals, the hope is to do what these games have always done — build a community invested in each other's stories and shared imagination. Every person who participates is joining with the goal of bringing this game into the world, and that common goal is a powerful binding element that we can't help but want to share. When you back this project, you join us on this exciting journey and become part of our own community.

All participants who would like to make this project happen can pledge their support and add to the overall campaign total. If the campaign meets the funding target ($30,000), then we will have funded the project and it will become a reality. Your pledge will only be collected if we achieve our funding target.

In thanks for your support, we offer rewards based on your level of funding pledged. The Reward Tiers down the right side of the page outline the various rewards reflecting various levels of support pledged. Please note that international shipping costs ARE NOT included in the cost of your pledge. You will be charged for shipping after the campaign through the pledge manager.

Digital vs Physical: do you save some shelf space and go digital-only with the PDF version or go all in with the hardcover version? Are you looking at the standard edition, or the deluxe limited edition? Are you just interested in the new book created by this campaign, or are you looking to explore more of the World Below with the Add-On options available as well? Are you interested in delving into other Storypath games? We have digital starter bundles available for those as well! Please note that international shipping costs ARE NOT included in the cost of your pledge. You will be charged for shipping after the campaign through the pledge manager.

While the World Below is mysterious and full of unknown dangers, we've tried to keep supporting this project as simple and straightforward as possible. To pledge support to this project, select one of these pledge path tiers:

  • HUNTER: This is the PDF-only reward tier. So, if you're saving trees or saving shelf space - or avoiding the shipping charges that are absolutely ever-increasing - this is the reward tier option that you should begin with. The PDF will be fulfilled by our partners at - when it is ready, you will receive a link to add it to your DTRPG library at no cost for you to download at your leisure.

  • CARTOGRAPHER: This reward tier includes the standard hardcover version of this book. Shipping costs ARE NOT included in the cost of your pledge. You will be charged for shipping after the campaign through the pledge manager. In addition, this option also includes the PDF version, so you will get a digital copy as described above.

If you're really excited to take the journey into the World Below and  want to really impress your gaming friends, we're also offering a special edition Deluxe World Below hardcover book.

  • ARTIFICER: This reward tier includes the limited edition deluxe version of The World Below hardcover book, with a leatherette cover, special cover design, and bound-in silk bookmark. Shipping costs ARE NOT included in the cost of your pledge. You will be charged for shipping after the campaign through the pledge manager.  In addition, this option also includes the PDF version, so you will get a digital copy as described above.

In addition to these primary reward pledge paths, we also offer the following options:

  • SURFACE-TOUCHED: Not ready to commit, or just looking to offer general support? This pledge tier is for you. This does not include our primary reward, but allows you to select some digital optional Add Ons, as well as participate in the post-campaign Pledge Manager as a backer. You'll also be able to read the draft manuscript of The World Below that we post throughout this campaign.

  • KAOSIST / EXPLORER: These tiers bundle in some special collector's items to really celebrate the launch. The Kaosist tier includes the standard hardcover edition and PDF, alongside the deluxe starbearer glow dice set, the Storyguide screen, the World Below Provides pendant and World Below Provides enamel pin. The Explorer tier includes the limited deluxe edition hardcover and PDF, along with the Explorer's Bag, Storyguide screen, deluxe starbearer glow dice set, World Below Provides pendant, and World Below Provides enamel pin. You will be charged for shipping after the campaign through the pledge manager.  

  • WORLDHEART / ALCHEMIST / MINERALBORN / FARSIGHTER: A few Reward Tiers offer special limited premium rewards in addition to the basics, including an option to supply a name to be used by an NPC included in a supplement, an opportunity to gain access to a supplemental manuscript during development, an option to submit photo references to be used by World Below artists for an interior illustration, and participation in an online game session run by Matthew Dawkins and featuring Ed Greenwood! Check each of the Reward Tier descriptions for more details.

Finally, we love retailers, but modern publishing methods don’t always make it easy for them to get books into their stores. With this World Below campaign, we have created a special Reward Tier just for you.

  • MOTH: Any retailer who pledges at the Retail Reward Tier will get 5 copies of the standard World Below hardcover books (as well as the PDF versions) as well as 5 copies of the Storyguide screen at a retail-specific discount so that they can sell in-store. You must have prior approval to back at this level. Otherwise your pledge will be adjusted in our post-campaign Pledge Manager. Please contact [email protected] to confirm your eligibility.


As we increase the overall funding and support for the project, we’re able to add additional resources to the project, expand the rewards listed, and add in new offers and opportunities. Each Stretch Goal will have a target that, once reached, will add a project to the reward list for backers of the relevant Stretch Goal path. Whenever we achieve a stretch goal, the image will be updated to reflect the achievement.

ACHIEVED! - At $32,000 in Funding – WORLD BELOW T-SHIRT ON REDBUBBLE – A World Below-themed Backer shirt will be hosted on Onyx Path’s Redbubble store for a limited time. Only backers will be notified when the shirt becomes available for purchase.

ACHIEVED! - At $34,000 in Funding – DELVING DEEP INTO THE WORLD BELOW – A starting scenario to play or serve as an example for a World Below Storyguide. Our first adventure concerns the most common field of play: venturing from the safety of one's settlement to explore, face dangers, and hopefully return with resources to strengthen one's communities. Expect some surprises in this one! This World Below Adventure Supplement PDF will be added to the rewards list of all backers receiving The World Below PDF as one of their rewards.

ACHIEVED! - At $36,000 in Funding – ALTERNATE EXPLORER’S BAG ADD ON OPTION – An alternate version of the Explorer’s Bag will be made available as an Add On option. Backers pledged to the Explorer reward tier will be able to select which bag they wish to receive in the Pledge Manager after the campaign.

ACHIEVED! -At $39,000 in Funding – ED GREENWOOD’S MOUNSTROUS ECOLOGY – A PDF supplement detailing some of the strange and unique creatures that dwell in the World Below. The intrepid Ed Greenwood delves into some of the common colossal bugs, monstrous entities, and carnivorous beasts dwelling in the World Below with the first part of our ecology book.  This PDF supplement will be added to the rewards list of all backers receiving The World Below PDF as one of their rewards.

ACHIEVED! -At $41,000 in Funding – WORLD BELOW DIGITAL WALLPAPER – Weird and wonderful World Below artwork will be used to create a wallpaper for your computer desktop. This digital wallpaper will be added to the rewards list of all backers supporting this project.

ACHIEVED! -At $43,000 in Funding – WORLD BELOW MONSTER CARDS – A set of Monster Cards with illustrations on one side and information on the back will be released as a “Print-and-Play” PDF and added to the rewards list of all backers receiving The World Below PDF as one of their rewards. Backers will receive an option to order a physical version from DriveThruCards at a discounted rate.

ACHIEVED! -At $46,000 in Funding – WORLD BELOW MOBILE WALLPAPER – Weird and wonderful World Below artwork will be used to create a wallpaper for your mobile device lockscreen. This lockscreen wallpaper will be added to the rewards list of all backers supporting this project.

ACHIEVED! -At $49,000 in Funding – DIGGING DEEPER INTO THE WORLD BELOW – The World Below Adventure Supplement PDF will be expanded to include a follow-up adventure. Our second adventure concerns the building and protection of our settlement, the political maneuvering of the guilds, and the clashes of dogmas that go on behind the so-called "safety" of the settlement walls.

ACHIEVED! - At $50,000 in Funding – WORLD BELOW VTT TOKEN PACK – Digital assets will be created to support online play for The World Below, including key character and creature tokens from the book. This online asset pack will be added to the rewards list of all backers.

ACHIEVED! - At $52,000 in Funding – ED GREENWOOD’S MOUNSTROUS ECOLOGY PART 2 – Ed Greenwood returns with an examination of the aberrant horrors, cosmic nightmares, and dreamlike phenomena of the World Below in the second part of our ecology book.

ACHIEVED! - At $55,000 in Funding – WORLD BELOW STREAMING OVERLAY – A set of overlays for your online World Below game will be created, for your use when streaming your game. This reward will be added to the rewards list for all backers.

ACHIEVED! - At $58,000 in Funding – FURTHER INTO THE WORLD BELOW – The World Below Adventure Scenario PDF will be expanded to include a third adventure. Our third adventure tasks our heroes with making contact with a distant settlement that's fallen unnervingly silent, reestablishing dead links, and facing the nightmares that have occupied the empty space where the living once dwelled.

At $60,000 in Funding – THE WELL LICH OF THE WORLD BELOW  – The World Below Adventure Scenario PDF will be expanded to include a final adventure. Our fourth adventure sees our protagonists in a race against the Kaos storm and one of its horrifying drivers: a Well Lich. Do you jump through a Kaos Portal and take your chances, face down the undead monstrosity, or run for your lives?


International shipping has become increasingly expensive and is often prohibitive to non-US backers. Several contemporary publishers have decided to discontinue international shipping completely. For this project, Onyx Path wants to keep all options open to our customers, though shipping costs will reflect the expense.

PLEASE NOTE: Shipping costs ARE NOT included in the cost of your pledge. You will be charged for shipping—and have an opportunity to adjust your pledge—after the campaign through the pledge manager.

The following are estimates for shipping a copy of the hardcover book with full package tracking, projected on current trends. Please note that these are estimates only and are subject to change by the time of fulfillment (currently projected by May 2025)

  • DOMESTIC MEDIA MAIL (USA): $0 USD + $25 per Explorer's Bag, +$2-$10 USD per additional book/item 
  • CANADA: $45 USD + $45 per Explorer's Bag, + $5-$15 USD per additional book/item
  • UNITED KINGDOM: $55 USD +$55 per Explorer's Bag, +$5-$20 USD per additional book/item
  • EUROPEAN UNION: $60 USD +$60 per Explorer's Bag, +$5-$20 USD per additional book/item
  • AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND: $75 USD +$100 per Explorer's Bag, +$10-25. USD per additional book/item
  • BRAZIL*: $80.00 USD +$25 USD per additional book (only books available to ship to Brazil)
  • THE REST OF THE WORLD: $55 USD +$60 per Explorer's Bag, +$5-$20 USD per additional book/item

Again, we will be charging the actual costs via our BackerKit pledge manager once the books are preparing to ship. These are estimated costs only, and the final costs charged will reflect the actual rates at the time of shipping.

*Orders to Brazil will be shipped with tracking numbers once only. Should the order become lost in customs processing or during last-mile delivery within Brazil, we'll need full payment of a second order before any re-ships can take place. At this time, we can only ship books to Brazil.


If you live outside of the US, here are your options for obtaining a physical copy:

  • Pledge to the campaign at the $25 Hunter reward tier to get the PDF version plus a redemption code to purchase the print-on-demand version of the book at a discounted cost (plus shipping) from once it's available (see Reward Descriptions, above, for more details).
  • Pledge to the campaign at the $5 Surface-Touched reward tier to get access to the preview manuscript. Later, you can buy the PDF and/or Print-on-Demand when eventually released.
  • Contact your local game store and make sure you're put on a preorder list so they know there's demand for the game that they're being asked to fill, and then encourage them to back at the Retailer Tier for this campaign!
  • Look into a freight forwarding service that can give you a US-based shipping address and get packages delivered to it and forwarded to you.

After the campaign is over we'll launch our BackerKit Pledge Manager and invite the backers to set up their rewards via survey. This allows you to confirm your pledge and add on anything that you might have missed, as well as possibly increasing your pledged reward tier, should you choose to expand your reward selection. This option will give international backers additional time to investigate shipping options, should they choose, knowing they can confirm a physical reward at a later date. We will also use BackerKit's Pledge Manager to charge actual shipping costs for international orders when we're approaching order fulfillment. Funding collected by BackerKit after the crowdfunding campaign does not count toward any campaign Stretch Goals, however.

Onyx Path Publishing has managed more than 60 crowdfunded projects, and that experience allows us to maintain manageable projects and achievable goals. To read more about the knowledge that has been applied to this project, you can read the FAQ linked here:

If you believe that this project is not in compliance with BackerKit’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, you can file a report by sending a message via this link: Report this project