MAGICKAL KAOS! [Monday Meeting Notes]

Our BackerKit Crowdfunding campaign for The World Below is finishing its second week and we’ve achieved six Stretch Goals including Ed Greenwood’s Monster Ecology book, and a set of Monster Cards to further assist your play at the table. Maybe this guy above will be in both of those!

I say we’re in the Iron Strata of The World Below right now, as the going is harder to push through, but there’s lots of fun things to find including settlements, trade routes, hidden riches, and portals to other Strata, and even other worlds!

Yep, other worlds – and just last week we released the PoD versions of Lore of the Traditions for Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition, a game renowned for extra-dimensional and planar travel. But is that all they have in common? A brand-new fantasy game and a longtime WoD stalwart? A coincidence that both are happening right now?

Not according to The World Below creator and developer, and M20 development head, Matthew Dawkins! In fact, here he is to give his thoughts about the two game lines:

Where The World Below meets Mage: The Ascension

Mage has always been an incredibly inspiring game for me, but one I’ve rarely had cause to write. I’ve run it, played it, and examined it in detail, and some of the parts of Mage I’ve enjoyed the most are the freeform mode of magickal (with a k) creation (use your Spheres! improvise an appropriate effect!), the idea that belief changes the world around you (something I also enjoyed a great deal in Planescape), and the possible repercussions of paradox backlash (every spell has a risk attached).

The idea of a complex magic system that one could manipulate with ease at face value, but potentially triggering unexpected results is something I’ve always enjoyed in games. I was also keen to play a wild mage in AD&D. I loved the random effects of using the Chromatic Orb spell, way back when, and sign me up for a Prismatic Spray whenever it’s available. But why does this connect to the The World Below?

Magic, or sorcery, in The World Below is inherently Kaotic (with a k). You are playing with the strands of creation and destruction, you don’t know where they lead, and they vary in potency depending on your proximity to the Well (the source of power), your possession of Kaotic items, how volatile the energies around you are, etc. The idea behind this is that the World Below is an unpredictable, dangerous environment, and the powers you’re wielding are little understood. To be an “expert” you become a Kaosist, but that expertise is in itself just a willingness to throw yourself entirely on Kaos’s mercy. And it doesn’t have much.

So when looking at sorcery in The World Below, I worked with Travis Legge and Leath Sheales to harness the parts of D&D magic we enjoyed, the epic and tiered nature of powers from games like Mummy: The Curse, and the philosophy behind Mage: The Ascension. In The World Below you can create your own sorcery – with huge risk of Kaotic Retaliation. In The World Below you can rely on structured, already-written sorceries – with slightly diminished risk of Kaotic Retaliation. And these retaliations – kind of like paradox backlashes – aren’t always deadly or negative. The nature of Kaos is it can benefit you as easily as it punishes you for your attempt to wield it.

I was rereading Lore of the Traditions recently, as it just came out via print on demand (here: and was thinking to myself two things: 1. Travis did a superb job developing this book, and 2. It reminded me of everything I love about Mage: The Ascension. So much lore. So many story hooks. So many options. And it made me appreciate our World Below sorcery system even more, as it evokes what I enjoy so much about magick (with a k), while the setting itself has possibly even more secrets and lore than Mage itself.

The World Below and Mage: The Ascension are two games you may not immediately connect in your head, but the latter definitely served to inform the former, just as my experiences with AD&D have done so, just as my work on Mummy: The Curse did so, and just as my various other World of Darkness projects have done so.

Whether you call it a paradox backlash and risk getting sucked into some nether realm for unleashing a tank-sized glacial boulder in a crowded street (Forces ••••, Matter ••, Prime ••, maybe?) or a Kaotic Retaliation and risk an explosion of carnivorous bugs because you’re standing at the edge of a Kaotic waterfall when you unleash your cone of cold (Difficulty 3, Moderate Complication, probably), I think the unexpected side effects of epic magic are always fun additions to a game, driving roleplay and making your adventures even more adventurous than before.

If you like Mage, check out Lore of the Traditions! And if you enjoy magick (with a k), check out The World Below on BackerKit! See if you can identify the inspirations.

Thanks, Matthew!

8 Directions art by Navela Studio

In fact folks, even if you aren’t into the whole crowdfunding thing, The World Below Ashcan (a fully playable slice of the full TWB rules and world) is currently a free giveaway treat during DTRPG‘s Halloween Sale! Go trick or treating and get your PDF copy today and you’ll get a handful of candy to whet your appetite for the full bag of the much deeper lore of the full The World Below book. Here’s that treat link, now!

And please do bear in mind that any backer of The World Below crowdfunding campaign gets the full text of the book by the time the campaign is over in a little over two weeks!

This coming Friday, please tune in to the Onyx Pathcast as Dixie interviews Travis Legge and Michele Masala, who have worked on a lot of projects for us at this point – writing, developing, layout, film-making – and specifically on The World Below! Dixie’s hard-hitting and probing questions will no doubt get them to reveal their darkest, most hidden, secrets, so come join the fun!

On our Twitch this Tuesday at 5:30 pm Eastern US time, Matthew returns with a charity session of TWB for Roll For Wishes, and we have an episode of Making Monsters for The World Below on Wednesday at 6PM Eastern US time!

W20 Icons of Rage art by Sam Denmark


Aw, I wish I could say that we all dressed up in costume for the Monday Meeting today – such a good idea and I missed it! We’re all so focused on getting stuff done we missed the spooky forest for the scary trees!

But we did have some discussion on a variety of non-Halloween topics, as is our wont. Not the least of which are some of our folks lining up some downtime at some point during the rest of the year – only two months away! Our gang needs to recharge at times, too!

Not really downtime, but definitely a change of pace, Dixie and I (and maybe some other Onyx Pathers) will be attending The Bodhana Group‘s 13th Annual Save Against Fear convention November 9-12. The games start Friday the 10th at the York Expo Center in York, PA. We’ll be sitting in on gaming sessions and panels talking and playing The Bodhana Group‘s new TTRPG Branch Riders that Onyx Path will be publishing!

Stop by if you’re in the area, we’d love to chat with folks AND the admittance costs go towards funding Bodhana‘s non-profit efforts to integrate gaming and therapy! A very good cause, indeed.

TCFtCC! art by Brian LeBlanc

Besides the Sales listed below, we also have put together these Halloween bundle deals as part of our Community Content sites:

Trinity Continuum:

Scarred Lands:



They Came From:

We talked about a great meeting last week where a bunch of the team looked at a lot of scary art. Now that‘s my kind of meeting!

Finally, and what a great word that is!, Inktober ends tomorrow with my 31st ink drawing of the month! As it always has been, the month is both a massive drain, and supremely satisfying to look back on! Now, my internet went out during the MM meeting, so I had unexpected extra time for drawing today to add in more details, so here’s today’s piece of art:

That’s T’Kol, an Elven Monk in a campaign created and run by a fella some folks here might recognize: Ethan Skemp. The Skempster came up with a gigantic, sprawling building that was an ancient city grown odd and whimsical in its ways called Tanglestone, and our party was comprised of representatives of the many guilds and orders who needed things investigated.

It was intensely flavorful, with us never knowing what could be around any given corner. Great gaming, great roleplaying, and a great inspiration for the flights of imagination we all love as we’re creating:

Many Worlds, One Path!



Funded in 48 HOURS! We’re crowdfunding The World Below on BackerKit! We’ve already excavated six Stretch Goals including the Beginning Adventure, Ed Greenwood’s Monster Ecology book, and Monster Cards to aid in your gameplay! You can dig it here!

Cover not final

Onyx Path Media!

This week: Dixie interviews Travis Legge and Michele Masala about The World Below!

As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue!

Please check out our attached media schedule for the videos on our Twitch channel this week! In particular, keep those eyes open for our Storypath Showcase, where we give an excellent profile of our various Storypath games and how to play them!


A Bunch of Gamers have released a character creation and actual play for The World Below and you can find them both right here: 

Character Creation:

Grotto of the Ruined Lord:

The Onyx Path News discusses recent and upcoming releases! You can find it on our YouTube channel (click the bell to be informed when we go live!) but if you missed the last episode, here it is:

Virtual Tabletop!

New on the Roll20 Marketplace, it’s the Scarred Lands Creature Collection and Camp Murder Lake Tokens for Roll20 VTT play!

They Came From Beneath the Sea! on Roll20 VTT!

Here are some more shots from the They Came From Beneath the Sea! Compendium!

And there’s also the Scion Jumpstart, all ready for Roll20 VTT fun!

More news and links when we have them!

The Scion: Origin and Scion Hero Compendiums are now available on Roll20!

Scion is just the start! They Came From Beneath the Sea! and other
Onyx Path RPGs are in development for Roll20 virtual tabletop!

The first of our official Scion sheets designed for Foundry VTT are
now available!

Direct Link:

Looking for more virtual tabletop resources? We have a selection of
Tokens, Encounters, and more available now at DriveThruRPG!

Get ’em here:

Our Sales Partners!

We’re working with Studio2 to provide our traditionally printed books out into your local game stores. Game stores can order via their usual distributors, and can also contact Studio2 directly. And individuals can check out our projects via the links below!

Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books, dice, and screens? Try this link!

Halfoween is back FOR ONE MORE DAY at Indie Press Revolution. A mix of World of Darkness, Chronicles of Darkness, and Storypath books and screens are 50% Off:

As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles in PDF and PoD versions at!

DTRPG‘s Halloween Sale is on now:

Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble).

Check out Melody Through the Mirrorshade Lens and Facets of Truth, as well as Trinity Continuum: Terat and The Hollow Courts on Kindle in the Kindle store!

On Sale This Week!

Be careful, stay cool, and keep your eyes on the prize when you take on a mission from a Dragon! Live By The Blade the Scion: Dragon Jumpstart is snaking in for sale on DTRPG this Weds, in both PDF and PoD forms!


As we are slowly returning to attending conventions in person after avoiding them during the COVID-19 outbreak, keep an eye out here for more physical and virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with!

We’ll be part of the Studio 2 booth at PAX Unplugged (December 1st – 3rd):

Game Night With Onyx Path Publishing at StartPlaying is the last Friday of every month! Come play some of our games, especially The World Below – you can use the Ashcan! (But any of our game lines are welcome all day long!)

Please spread the word about GMing games as much as
possible. Details on how list a game are at the bottom of the page in
the FAQ:

Project Status Updates!

Our full list of projects will be available monthly on our blog! Check out September’s full list report here:


Here are the projects that moved to the next stage of production:

First Draft

Tasty Bit – Æon: Large Scale Space Combat

  • Eddy: Kicking off our 2024 Tasty Bits, this is a new take on large-scale space combat. It’s a lot different from massive, hex-based games, I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Scion – Rock Gods and Side Quests

  • Matthew: This is an exciting new book we’ve not spoken about yet! What can you expect inside? Well the gods of rock ‘n’ roll never die, and maybe this book shows you how they earn their legend and how to structure the kind of road trip epic tales these beings live and die and live again through.

Final Draft

TC: Aegis: Aegis Atlas

  • Eddy: Our stretch goal project spinning out of the Trinity Continuum: Aegis Kickstarter is already back to the writers for their final drafts!

Manuscript Approval

Realms of Pugmire – Threats and Curs (was Pugmire Monster Book)

  • Eddy: I’ve gone through over 150 enemies. That’s a lot of monsters, rivals, and secret societies ready for your Realms of Pugmire chronicles! It’s now off to Rich so I can get his insights into them….

Post-Editing Development

Earthbane – The World Below

  • Matthew: I will shortly be reviewing the edits on this manuscript! Always exciting when I know we had such a talented editor working on it. Thanks M.K.!


In Art Direction

  • Ex3 Eight Directions – Maps are moving along and should have finals in a few weeks.
  • Ex3 Sidereals – In progress with Maria.
  • Ex3 Many Faced Strangers – Should see finals in a few weeks.
  • Ex3 Abyssals – Should have finals in this week for the KS.
  • The World Below – Ticking along…
  • TCF Cyclops Cave and Classified Jumpstarts – Sheikman is doing Classified JS and Leblanc on Cyclops Cave.
  • SCION God 2e – With Maria.
  • TC Aether – With Maria.
  • COFD Contagion Chronicles RMCs – Moving along.
  • CtL2e The Hedge I got Luis and Drew on this… which hopefully is enough.

In Layout

  • Ex3 Exigents – Setting up my page designs and getting it rolling.
  • SCION Once and Future – I’m working on this when I’m not working on Exigents.
  • W20 Icons of Rage – I got teh last of the portraits in….


  • HtV Jumpstart – Going to Paradox for approval.
  • They Came From CLASSIFIED! Just waiting on the portraits from Gaydos… and that tweak from Farri.
  • Ex3 Across the 8 Directions (sans Maps)


At Press

  • TC Adventure – Still all Pacific…
  • TC Adventure Screen and Booklet
  • W20 Apocalyptic Record – Printing.
  • W20 Apocalyptic Record Screen & Booklet
  • Exalted Essence – Prepping Trad Print files.
  • Ex Essence Screen
  • M20 Lore of the Traditions – Prepping Trad Print Files.
  • Ex3 Crucible of Legends VTT Tokens 
  • Ex Essence Novella 1 – PoD files uploaded.
  • Ex Essence Novella 3 – PoD files uploaded.
  • They Came From the Cyclops Cave! – Backer PDF should be good to go out to KS backers this week.
  • TC Anima – Prepping PoD files.
  • Ex 3 Crucible of Legends – PoD proofs ordered.
  • Scion Dragon Jumpstart – PDF and PoD versions on sale WEDS on DTRPG!

Today’s Reason to Celebrate!

Tomorrow, as I write this, is Halloween Night! WOOOOOO! A delightful time of year! That makes today what we called in my day: Mischief Night! TPing the neighbors’ trees was a huge favorite, as was the burning bag of dog poop left at a front door after you rang their bell. Writing crude comments or doing dirty drawings with bars of soap on car windows was pretty popular too, as I recall. Deeper and darker, tonight was also called Devils’ Night, although not where I grew up, and has some more sinister connections. Or so I’ve heard….boo!







10 responses to “MAGICKAL KAOS! [Monday Meeting Notes]”

  1. Jason Avatar

    Devil’s Night, primarily used in the Detroit area, once included many fires set, particularly in 1989, on the night I was born.

    1. richt Avatar

      A dark and fiery night! Happy BDay!

      1. Matthew Dawkins Avatar

        Nobody wants an unhappy bidet.

  2. Katfeathers Avatar

    I boggle that The Hedge is still having hitches in the art department. Feel like some kind of record.

    1. richt Avatar

      Every project is different and every bit of every book is made by people. Sometimes those creators glide right through and other times they and/or the process find the path bumpy.

  3. Wesley Avatar

    Thanks so much for the updates on the Eight Directions maps. The ‘few weeks’ detail was a welcome read today.

    1. richt Avatar

      That’s the note this week, so let’s hope it’s an accurate estimate!

  4. Troy Avatar

    Where I grew up, Oct. 30 was called “Beggars’ Night,” because that is when we went trick-or-treating. We also had to tell jokes to get candy. When I moved somewhere else and asked the first kid for his joke, everyone looked really confused.

    1. richt Avatar

      So what did you all do on Halloween night itself? Which is tonight as I write this – Happy Halloween everyone!

      1. Troy Avatar

        We watched Halloween shows/movies on TV. Apparently it was a response to mischief night. Get all the kids with their parents out in the neighborhood on that night, and it cut down the amount of mischief significantly.