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Special Delivery – A Charity 5e Project

I’m a strong believer in synergy, in finding solutions where as many people as possible benefit.

Last week I put into action a project called Special Delivery – A Charity 5e Adventure. The goals of this project are numerable and diverse. I want to share some of those goals and hopes with you. If any of these goals and hopes mesh with your own, I invite you to join me in this journey.

But first, a little background. I had big plans for 2020 in the RPG and D&D space. Many of us had plans in different aspects of our life. The pandemic brought many of those plans to a screeching halt, as people lost their lives, or their loved ones, or their livelihoods, or their peace of mind, or their comfort, to COVID-19. It’d be futile to try to describe the devastation, because we’re seeing it all around us.

It’s shown, to those willing to look past themselves, just how interconnected we are. That web of connectivity leads to shared suffering, but it also provides an opportunity to show the beauty and hope that comes with community, even a socially distanced one. For the last several years, my main community has been D&D (and other RPG) players. It’s a community I love for its diversity and its sense of wonder at the power of games and shared storytelling.

As the news came out of China, then Italy, and then the rest of the world, I began to see what this virus might do to the world–and to my worldwide gaming community. I knew my plans for projects would have to change. I began brainstorming, and I devised a list of goals that I wanted to see enacted despite the pandemic.

1) I wanted people who were in danger to find the means to get help.

2) I wanted people who were seeking comfort from the stress of the pandemic to have a community to engage with–emotionally and intellectually if not physically.

3) I wanted people who needed a creative outlet or who wanted to explore their creative processes to have a channel for that desire.

With those goals in mind, I launched Special Delivery.

The first goal of helping people in danger is simple. Buy the adventure, and in doing so you are donating to the Red Cross, one of the most trusted and helpful relief organizations in the world. If you don’t have the money to donate, the adventure is available for free. Download it, enjoy it, criticize it, or ignore it. It’s yours to do with what you want. That’s the second goal: take your mind off your stress for a moment. Hopefully a free adventure can help regardless of your situation.

The third goal is the tricky one. The question I get most as a full-time freelancer is “how do I get started in game design?” The answer is simple: you get started in game design by starting to design games. Getting paid gigs can be difficult or impossible. Making more than pizza money at it can be an insurmountable hurdle. But that best way to start on the path is to create, then share, then create more.

This is where I want Special Delivery to go from being a simple charity product to being a community project. So here’s the plan:

If we can attain goal 1 above (earn money for the Red Cross), then I (and some generous volunteers) will start to build that creator community. This community will include not just professional designers who have volunteered time and energy, but anyone who wants to contribute. You’ve always wanted to create a magic item, or a monster, or a background, or even a full adventure? Wanted to build a fantasy world? Let’s make that happen!

If you read the adventure, you’ll see that it is fairly generic, both in terms of world-building and style. This was done specifically to give creators plenty of room to bring their own expertise and passion to the project. What does the kingdom look like? What do the NPCs look like? What are the main threats facing the kingdom? What other baronies are there, who are their rulers, and what intrigues are taking place there? What new monsters lurk on the fringes of the barony?

When you see a place in the adventure that leaves room for design, art, cartography, or anything else (and there is plenty), fill it in! Do you best work, and submit it to us. We’ll take the best of the work we get, and we’ll either add it to the existing adventure, or we’ll include it in the next adventure. We can’t offer payment, because we’re not making anything on this either. But we’ll be sure to include your name, a brief bio of you, links to your work elsewhere, and your social media information.

(Note: we do not condone or suggest working for “exposure” in most cases. If people are earning off your work, you deserve to be fairly compensated for that work.)

More importantly, when we can, we’ll give you some constructive feedback on your work. It will get read, reviewed, discussed, and responded to in some way. Depending on the volume of response, it might be a little or it might be a lot. But it’ll be something.

That’s it! Get the adventure, send your work to supplement it to, and we’ll see if we can’t create some great 5e material and save some lives in the process. But none of this happens unless we can get a significant amount raised to support the Red Cross. So spread the word about the adventure and the project. Support it if you can. Let’s build a world while we save a world!





Shawn Merwin

Shawn's professional design and editing work in the roleplaying game industry has spanned 20 years and over 4 million words of content. His Dungeons & Dragons work has ranged from 3rd to 5th edition, showing up in sourcebooks, adventures, articles, and Organized Play administration. He has been a driving force in several Organized Play programs, and has written material for Wizards of the Coast (Dungeon Delve, Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress, Halls of Undermountain), Pelgrane Press (Dracula Dossier), Modiphius Entertainment (Star Trek Adventures), Baldman Games (as Content Manager), Kobold Press (Creature Codex, Book of Lairs), and countless others. Find his adventures here: