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Downcrawl is a system to help gamemasters run randomly generated, open-ended adventures in a weird and fantastical underworld called The Deep, Deep Down: a place so far from the surface that the sun and sky are only legends, and so vast that no bounds can be placed on its dimensions or contents.

Compatible with any fantasy roleplaying system, Downcrawl contains rules for taking dangerous journeys through unmapped places, tables of fungi with curious effects, procedures for GMs to generate strange new peoples, places, and encounters, and tips for running a satisfying, spontaneous campaign when your players might explore in any of six directions. Oh, and huge intelligent spiders who eat faces. Watch out for those.

A woodcut illustration of a subterranean jungle.

Downcrawl Features:

  • Gives GMs tools to create player-driven hexcrawls that maintain a sense of wonder and narrative momentum

  • Roll dice to generate weird, story-rich Volumes for players to explore, or grab some pre-generated ones:
    • Vertical city Bone Falls, where no one can stay for long
    • Deepness Bastion, decadant knights at the gate of a long-forgotten portal to evil
    • ...and more

Woodcut illustration from Downcrawl of a vast underground vault.
  • Each volume contains strange new intelligent creatures, and there's a generator (and examples) for those too:
    • The Chitter, creepy but polite insectoid constructs
    • Pesh, rock-folk whose hands can shape stone like clay
    • Lime Lillen, delicate creatures who guide the painfully slow formation of stalactite art
    • ...and more

  • A Random Encounter generator that focuses on strange situations rather than yet another monster

  • Generate thousands of possible underground terrains with a combinatorial generator:
Excerpt from Downcrawl's Table of Terrains
  • A full Journey system for underground expeditions

  • Rules put the focus of rolls on Success or Complications, rather than Success or Failure

  • Learn to forage for fungi and enjoy their many curious effects, or seek out a Fungal Druggist to get a more potent variety, with only a small chance of all-consuming addiction 

  • And tons more tips and tools for GMs on running a campaign in an infinite world where languages, races, money, and maps are always changing

**By the author of 2019 ENnie award winner Archives of the Sky.**

Now also available: Ten Down, a 30-page companion to Downcrawl featuring ten pre-built volumes to explore, and a new mechanic for forging permanent Paths between volumes:
Banner ad for Ten Down

Also available: try Skycrawl, the same core rules in a world of endless sky, tiny planets, and zero-g airship battles!

Banner ad for Skycrawl showing an airship sailing through a dense cloudy sky.
 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (1)
Discussions (7)
Customer avatar
Neil S December 30, 2021 12:32 am UTC
Does this have rules to make new peoples
Customer avatar
Aaron R December 30, 2021 1:39 pm UTC
Yes-- there's a 5-page section with rules and tables for generating new Folk you might encounter in the Down, as well as a dozen quick examples of Folk generated with the system.
Customer avatar
mazarbul M September 04, 2021 10:17 am UTC
I think that Aaron made a very goog job. The work I see is amazing. However my problem is that I would like to see a play in action. Really I do not know very well how to start or how the system works. I'd thank if the author or any player could give an example of play to understand the system properly (I tried to find it but without success)
Customer avatar
Michael G October 15, 2019 2:32 pm UTC
D20 has needed a middle success range and a "succeed with complication range" since its inception; I'm sure the author is not the first to apply it but this is the first time I've seen it in print. The sad thing is that the next iteration of the world's most overhyped game will incorporate the idea and it'll be heralded as innovative. Just like advantage/disadvantage and whatever they named their meta-currency.
Customer avatar
Michael N September 18, 2019 4:06 pm UTC
This book rules and makes me want to start an under-dark exploration game RIGHT NOW.
1. Very cool ideas for tracking survival and travel
2. Super evocative setting info
3. Fail-forward mechanics, downtime actions, and progress clocks (similar to Forged in the Dark systems)
4. Beautiful layout & art, and a helpful player handout attached.
Customer avatar
Leonard C August 20, 2019 7:44 pm UTC
There is a free html version of this pdf available on the author's blog :
Customer avatar
Aaron R September 01, 2019 3:28 pm UTC
Just a clarification on this: the free version has most of the same text, but fewer examples and sample Folk/Volumes, and is also a basic HTML layout without the artwork from the full book.
Customer avatar
Dorian Y August 13, 2019 1:46 am UTC
There's a lot to unpack on pages 8 and 9 of that preview. Honestly, I'm left bewildered. I want to buy this product but I'm thinking without a youtube video showing some of this in action I'll never puzzle through it.
Customer avatar
Brandon H August 05, 2019 7:03 am UTC
I haven't read it completely or enough to write a proper review, but I like what I have seen so far. I was looking for material for long distance expeditions and there's a lot here for that. Also, random fungi. I encourage D&D and Dungeon World fans to check it out.
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File Last Updated:
July 28, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on July 30, 2019.
Aaron A. Reed
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