Cairn Plans For 2022


Cairn Plans For 2022

We’ve built quite an amazing community around Cairn (especially thanks to the NSR Discord). I am deeply humbled by this, you guys ROCK. We have adventures, hacks and translations. We now have a ton of conversions available of many great OSR products; checkout what’s coming in the future!


The Dawn Plague (working title)

This is probably the first major Cairn-related thing I’m working on next year. In essence, it’s an overland adventure and dungeon that I’ve been writing and playtesting for over a year!
Thematically, the module will include themes like:

  • Kabbalah
  • Jewish Folklore
  • The pre-Shoah Eastern Europe
  • Belonging
  • Prejudice & Xenophobia
  • Survivor Syndrome

In terms of design, I’m focusing critical thinking, problem solving and player agency. The adventure is already written; it’s mostly a bunch of locations, a central mystery, and a dungeon. The latter is modeled after the Sefirot (if you’re familiar!) and I’m quite proud of it. I’ve also been very lucky to find some incredibly talented people (read: they draw good, real good) to help make the setting feel real and (hopefully) quite horrifying. I can’t wait to show off the end result!

Cairn Jam

  • Seeing the incredible success of the DURF Jam and others, I’d love to do one as well!
  • I think I’d push for a tight focus, with an emphasis on adventures and settings!
  • Maybe “forests of another kind” or something.
  • I’m all for ideas here, people.

Little Black Books

I’m very excited about this. It isn’t exactly Cairn 2e (the rules are exactly the same) but it is definitely a grown-up version of the original game, much the same as Electric Bastionland was to Into The Odd. I’m not trying to make a box set, but I’m also not not going to make a box set. Don’t quote me on that! It will likely be a set of books for ease of use at the table. Either a series of smaller zines or a mix of hardback and zine formats. Here is the basic idea:

  • The Adventure’s Guide would be for at-the-table character creation and rules reference
  • The Warden’s Manual is more for general advice but would have tools for ease-of-use at the table as well.
  • The Explorer’s Compendium should have setting generation and content for use at the table. I might do a series of these!
  • An adventure! For new players! See more below.

The Adventurer’s Guide

  • Game Rules (including default spells)
  • Expanded Player Principles & Advice.
  • Character creation will be radically changed: Backgrounds will be done in the style of Failed Careers from Electric Bastionland. For instance, rolling an Herbalist would result in a specific set of starting gear, plus some fun tables on top of that. A “shared debt” style mechanism to help new parties figure out how they all know each other, and why they’re risking their lives. If you’d like to see an example of what this might look like, see here.
  • Of course, you will still be able to roll a random character & starting equipment (the current way).
  • I will of course include the optional gear packages (also called fantasy loadouts)!
  • Advancement options & ideas. We’re talking “Foreground Growth” if you’re familiar.
  • Try to make it cheap so 3-4 players can make their PCs at the same time.

The Warden’s Manual

  • General Advice for running the game.
  • Rewritten rules based around the FAQ on the website.
  • An example of play.
  • Optional rules for expanded domains, common rulings, alternative procedures, etc
  • How to make a pointcrawl!
  • How to make a dungeon.
  • Advice on monster/trap/puzzle conversions from other systems.

Explorer’s Compendium

  • Worldbuilding advice (including collaborative options).
  • Setting generation tables.
  • An original setting
  • A Bestiary
  • A Reliquary (or whatever a list of Relics is called)

Example adventure

  • A basic starting adventure/hexcrawl/dungeon for new and experienced players.
  • Based on an original setting (hopefully something I can build on).
  • Should include a “teaching” dungeon with designer commentary.


I’ve collected a few of the projects folks have told me about; I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

  • Jim Parkin: Convert the complete Wormskin bestiary, write adventure area about wood god avatars (covertly guarding a Bad Thing™️ from escaping).
  • Matthew Morris: Supplement where the PCs are 18th century sailors and engage in oversea “hexploration”; also a couple more issues of Caers & Crannogs
  • Adam Hensley: Working on a science fantasy hack.
  • David Lombardo: Finish Meteor Corp; also an adventure called “Cairn at the Ren Faire” which is apparently 80% finished.
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