Advanced Search >

The Nightmares Underneath

The Nightmares Underneath

Selected Option:
ZIP File
Softcover B&W Book
Hardcover B&W Book
ZIP File + Softcover B&W Book
ZIP File + Hardcover B&W Book

The Nightmares Underneath is an old school role-playing game with a strong horror theme, set in a fantasy Middle East where dungeons are invading nightmares intent on the destruction of civilization.

In the Kingdoms of Dreams, all is right with the world—except for one thing. Even though the Law has triumphed over the powers of Chaos, banishing idolatry and superstition in favour of science and reason, humanity is still threatened by a dangerous, otherworldly force. The Realm of Nightmares invades the physical world, sending incursions in the form of dungeon to undermine and destroy society.

The Nightmares Underneath conforms to the following common assumptions of other old school games: six attributes, 3d6 in order, class and level, xp for treasure, spells are memorized, and there is a simple system of rolling under your attribute scores for saves and skill tests.

Some aspects of the game are less common:

  • Initiative is rolled again each round, but only by the players—monsters always use the same initiative scores.
  • There are 5 alignments, instead of the usual 3 or 9, and they affect the way a character interacts with magic and social institutions.
  • Instead of hit points, this game uses a Disposition score, which you roll for each day of adventuring. Once your character runs out of Disposition, instead of dying, successive damage reduces your attributes, and may cause you to be crippled, maimed, or knocked unconscious before being killed. The special attacks of monsters may also reduce your attribute scores instead of causing normal damage.

So what is unique about The Nightmares Underneath?

Nightmare Dungeons
The justification for dungeoncrawling in this setting is that adventurers are raiding nightmare incursions, to find the treasure that keeps an incursion anchored to the physical world. Once the treasure is looted, the incursion is destroyed, and the adventurers profit. Individual creatures made of nightmares can be killed, but as long as the incursion exists, it will continue to spawn more. This is reflected by a countdown die, used in addition to encounter checks for wandering monsters.

The rules also include procedures for creating nightmare incursions, the creatures that stalk them, and how they grow larger and more dangerous the longer it takes adventurers to deal with them.

Nightmare Curses
The terrible experiences adventurers face inside these nightmare incursions can leave lasting damage in the form of nightmare curses. When the darkness creeps into your soul, the result is madness, or supernatural restrictions, or even physical changes.

The players’ characters only suffer these curses when they are severely injured inside an incursion, while normal people can be driven mad simply by being inside an incursion to long. Be careful what hirelings you take into the dungeon with you!

Social Institutions
Once the dungeons have been looted, the carousing chapter includes guidelines for investing money in social institutions that can then provide favours and much-needed services to adventurers later on. Once you’ve spent enough money in town, you can attend classes at the local university to become more intelligent, the local druggist starts stocking the good stuff, and the geographical society lets you use its maps of the wilderness.

Characters can also turn communities against them, by committing crimes or leading villagers to their deaths inside the dungeon. Settlements have resentment ratings with each of the players’ characters, which may cause them to be forcibly driven out, if they get too high.

Any character may cast spells, though wizards are much better at doing so safely. There are 100 spells, and though they have levels, this does not restrict them to characters of specific levels, it only makes them harder to control. Beginning characters have the same chance of knowing any spell.

A free pdf version of The Nightmares Underneath is available here. It contains the full text of the game without the art.

Check out the latest Red Box Vancouver release: The Nameless Grimoire! A magic supplement for The Nightmares Underneath.

 Customers who bought this title also purchased
Reviews (2)
Discussions (8)
Customer avatar
Brian S March 14, 2018 10:47 pm UTC
i notice in the video that there seems to be full-bleed printing, but my understanding is that DTRPG doesn't support full-bleed for B&W books (which is the POD option currently available).

will the b&w POD option here also be full-bleed? if so perhaps it's the product dimensions which allow for this (ie being under A4 or whatever).
Customer avatar
Johnstone M March 15, 2018 12:14 am UTC
Hi Brian.
It's full bleed, absolutely, just like you see in the video. DriveThruRPG implemented the full bleed option on their B&W books a couple of years ago, and I use it for all my books currently available.
Customer avatar
September 03, 2017 5:03 pm UTC
Hey thanks for including the Apocalypse world hack rules with the PDF. That was quite the bonus. Thank you. Have you thought about doing POD rules for here for the Apocalypse world hack rules. I get revenues here is only reason I ask. I use it as credit to buy things from here.

David Vershaw II
Customer avatar
November 29, 2016 7:02 pm UTC
Print order shipped out on 28th so I am guessing that the PDF print
File would not been updated to reflect the change with the Fighter

David Vershaw II
Customer avatar
Johnstone M November 29, 2016 7:40 pm UTC
No, sorry. Updating the pdf is a fairly easy process, the print files very much not. If there's any confusion in play, remember that the combat chapter is correct!
Customer avatar
November 29, 2016 10:47 pm UTC
No worries. I was not sure if the PDF and print files were linked. It is not that big an issue since the combat chapter is correct and the PDF is updated.

David Vershaw II
Customer avatar
November 28, 2016 2:40 pm UTC
Thanks for updating the PDF so fast with links and Index! I see added the fighter adds level to the to hit roll. Not sure that once you update the PDF the print files/POD are updated or not. I ordered 3 print copies but it (fighter add level to hit) is mentioned in other sections so all good.

David Vershaw II
Customer avatar
Atlictoatl C November 28, 2016 6:05 am UTC
It's a brilliant gem, with fresh takes on Classes, HP, spell acquisition and casting, effect of adventurers on society, and the reasons behind dungeoneering. The layout is crisp and efficient, the artwork rather sublime in places, the writing engaging. The one glaring flaw is the lack of Bookmarks. For this price, they really should be present, and use of the ebook suffers without them.
Customer avatar
Johnstone M November 28, 2016 6:25 am UTC
Really? That's weird. There should be bookmarks and the table of contents should be hyperlinks. Here I am thinking I did all that but I guess the nightmares are messing with me. Oh well, I will add them in again soon and update the files. Thank you for letting me know about that!
Customer avatar
Atlictoatl C November 28, 2016 7:09 pm UTC
You are not only a scholar, sir, but in a league of extraordinary gentlemen. You have my thanks, and not a little of my money. (My progression went --> Friday, got free PDF. Within 30 minutes, purchased art-full PDF. On Sunday, I purchased the hardcover from Lulu.)

It's a really great product, folks. And the author/publisher is clearly quite responsive.
Customer avatar
November 28, 2016 4:10 am UTC
Like the book quite a bit. Had a question and 2 comments. The question is for the fighter in particular it states in close combat and missile combat the fighter is one of the classes that adds its level to hit. In the fighter class description it does not mention this like assign, champion ect. Which is right does the fighter add the level to hit or not?
First comment love the dungeon world influences and touches fro 5e.
Second after looking at damage like it overall. Reminds me a bit of Warhammer. I might have liked little more guidance for incapacitated. So for example if a target hit in the head and is incapacitated and must do complex check for around I might say attacks against target have advantage related incapacitation. Or if target hit in arm and incapacitated might give the target disadvantage when attacking.
Finally on maimed if the head is maimed and the healing roll is 1-6 amputated the target dies?
Also do you roll disposition after combat Ie short long rest ect. So disposition...See more
Customer avatar
Johnstone M November 28, 2016 5:27 am UTC
Hi David,
Fighters add their level to attack rolls, yes. It should say that under their profession description, but it doesn't because I changed the wording of their damage-on-a-miss ability at the last minute and forgot to put it in the same format as the other professions.

Incapacitated is supposed to mean unusable. If your arm is incapacitated, you cannot attack with it at all, and I rule that an incapacitated skull or neck means unconsciousness. But advantage to attacks against someone who is temporarily blind is definitely appropriate.

If the head is maimed, use the second roll table for which specific part of the head. PCs can survive having an eye or ear amputated easily, possibly a skull amputation if there is a doctor who can put a metal plate in, but a neck amputation would definitely be fatal.

If the PCs rest after combat, they re-roll Disposition. But no rest means no re-roll, and sitting around eating lunch for an hour inside a dungeon isn't easy.
Customer avatar
November 28, 2016 5:57 am UTC
Thank you sir. Really do enjoy the game quite a bit.

David Vershaw II
Customer avatar
Michael S November 17, 2016 1:56 am UTC
Can you post a preview of this book, so we can see what some of the missing art looks like?
Customer avatar
Johnstone M November 17, 2016 4:50 pm UTC
Sure. Just click on "Publisher Preview" right below the cover image, and you'll get a short section of Part II, including title page art, rules overview, and the illustrated PC professions.
Customer avatar
Sándor G November 14, 2016 8:54 pm UTC
Does that mean it has a good 80+ pages of art?
Customer avatar
Johnstone M November 15, 2016 1:59 pm UTC
Yes. About one quarter of the book is art, if you also count the half-page and quarter-page illustrations.
Browse Categories
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!
 Recent History

Product Information
Electrum seller
Rule System(s)
Publisher Stock #
File Size:
78.38 MB
Original electronic
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Last Updated:
March 06, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on November 14, 2016.
Publisher Info
Red Box Vancouver
Publisher Average Rating