Dawn of Madness

Created by Diemension Games

A mind-shattering story-driven cooperative board game for 1-4 players that is a true horror experience.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Fighting the Terrors
30 days ago – Sun, May 16, 2021 at 12:35:54 AM

Hey guys! I hope you've had a great few weeks. I'm sorry this update's a little behind. I've been laser-focused to hit a milestone for the game - something that we did hit recently. (Yay!) I'm not going to go into it much here today, but hopefully, it'll lead to more tasty tidbits for you in the future. Today I want to talk to you about two pretty important aspects of the game: the Terrors and how to fight them.

First, though, there is a question I know some of you have been eager to get an answer on regarding VAT in the EU. For those who don't know (and as best as I understand it - sorry, this isn't my area of expertise,) the EU is implementing a change to VAT on imports starting in June, which will base the fee on an item's suggested retail price rather than the manufacturing price (which could potentially be an enormous difference in some cases.) For anyone involved with this, it pretty well seems to outright suck. We are still gathering information on this and won't know anything completely concrete until the law passes, which is when our EU shipping partner will be able to offer some more educated insights. However, I can say this: we are looking at every possible way to mitigate this that we can. 

Our goal is for our EU backers not to pay anything additional. There is a vanishingly small outlying possibility (the absolute worst-case scenario) where we could potentially have to ask for a little additional help with this. Still, even that would be significantly less than the full amount and would be only if many other things we're working on completely fell apart. I say this only because we like to make sure we are completely up-front with you guys. Essentially, if it reached the point where we wouldn't be able to deliver your games because the burden was simply too great, then we would have a further conversation with you. I will say, though, that, in the past, we have never charged any more for shipping post-pledge manager, including when we've been hit with cool new tariffs (Deep Madness) or when the longboat shipping price suddenly tripled from the expected rate (Twisted Fables.)

I hope that helped those of you who have been worrying about this. I know this is a major new unforeseen wrinkle, but it's one we're working to iron out for you. 

Okay, enough with that unpleasant stuff. Onto the Terrors!

The Terrors

As you may recall, the Terrors are the basic enemies in Dawn of Madness. Some of them are tied to specific wanderers (such as the Patients for Emily, the Symptoms for Catherine, and the Penitents for Lynas), while others are free to roam between the wanderers, eating whom they will (such as the Watchers.) Each Terror is unique, with its own special abilities and weaknesses. However, one thing they all have in common is that they want to eat your mind (or face - they're not picky) for lunch.

Here's a look at the Terror's card:

Patient Hysteria's Terror card

Okay, let's break the card down. At the top, you have the Terror's name, family, and the wanderer it's tied to (if it is tied to one.) Moving down the card, you have the three domain rift slots (we'll discuss them below) followed by its stats and passive effect. Then, along the right, is the Terror's action sequence, which is essentially its AI. (We'll have more about this below, too.) 

The stat line is really the only thing we won't go into deeper later on, so let's go over it again quickly. First, you have its maximum health on the left, its mental capacity in the middle, and the reward you'll receive for defeating it. In this case, it has eight health and four mental capacity. As a reminder, mental capacity shows two things: where it will initially be placed on the mental capacity track (and thus activating after everything higher than it on the track) and how much mental energy it can expend to perform actions in a round. The crystal reveals that you will receive two existence for defeating this monster.

Now that we have a basic grasp of the card let's move onto the domain rifts and combat!

Domain Rifts

The domain rifts were slightly controversial during the campaign, with some people thinking monsters might be more unique if they had specific domain rifts baked onto their cards that never changed. However, this idea is based on a misunderstanding of what the domain rifts are. So, let's clear that up. 

The monsters in Dawn of Madness are, essentially, invulnerable. Under normal circumstances, they would not be hurt by anything you threw at them. But, as they pass through the Otherworld, they meld with it, changing with it, taking some things, and losing others. After all, it is the Otherworld that has given them life. They are fragments of nightmares, consciousnesses, and fears given form by this place and the wanderers trapped inside it. In a sense, you're not even actually fighting against real beings in many cases: you're fighting against the Otherworld itself (or at least its manifestations.)

Thus, we come to the domain rifts. The domain rifts are simultaneously a Terror's greatest strength (if a domain rift lines up with a special ability) and its only weakness. They are the only available chinks in its armor. When a Terror is spawned (or during the refresh phase of every round,) its substance will intermingle with the world shard it starts in. To do this, it will discard its remaining domain rifts from the previous round (if there were any left) and then roll three dice of the colors matching the sentience icons on that world shard. The results from this roll will determine the domain rift tokens that will be placed on its card for the round. Here's a picture to help illustrate this:

Patient Hysteria just spawned on the Asylum Hallway, which shows yellow, green, and purple sentience in the upper corner. Rolling three matching dice, it lands on a purple sphere, green eye, and yellow brain for this round.

In this example, Patient Hysteria just spawned on the Asylum Hallway. In the upper-left corner of the world shard are three sentience icons, corresponding to green, purple, and yellow. Hysteria will thus roll one green, one purple, and one yellow die to determine her domain rifts. After rolling, she has gotten a purple sphere, green eye, and yellow brain. Matching tokens now go into the three circles on her card. 

Here are the tokens on the Terror's card. Notice that two of them activate Hysteria's special abilities.

Once the domain rifts are placed on the Terror's card, you'll notice something unfortunate: The domain rifts contain an eye (which activates Hysteria's top special ability) and a sphere (which activates her lower one.) These abilities are only ever active when matching domain rifts are present on the card and are often cumulative. (So, if you rolled three eyes, Hysteria would see incredibly well and would move three additional spaces.) Conversely, if she didn't have any spheres, then her lower special ability wouldn't activate at all.


Now, how do you attack this nasty little beastie? You target one of the Terror's domain rifts and roll every available matching-colored die you have against it, hoping to roll the rift's symbol as many times as possible. For this example, we'll say that Catherine has reached Hysteria's space and wants to attack her. Looking at her domain rifts, she sees that she has three opportunities to hit Hysteria, though Catherine can only choose one for every attack. Catherine chooses the green eye since that will hinder Hysteria's movement, and Catherine has four available dice to use (as shown by the green "4" on her dashboard.) 

Catherine rolls her green dice and gets two eyes. However, she also has one green eye domain on her dashboard, which she spends to deal one additional wound. Thus, all told, Catherine inflicts three wounds against Hysteria. (Only five health left to go.) 

Additionally, once this attack is completed, the hit domain rift is discarded from Hysteria's card. This has two consequences: first, as mentioned previously, it can no longer use its eye-triggered special ability. But secondly, it now only has two domain rifts available with which wanderers can attack it. If wanderers' attacks remove all of those domain rifts, Hysteria will be invulnerable for the rest of the round.

Catherine attacks Hysteria. She chooses to attack the green eye and rolls all of her available green dice. She gets two eyes and uses a third green eye domain from her dashboard to deal three wounds to the Hysteria.

If all of Hysteria's health is whittled away, it dies and is removed from the game. But nothing in the Otherworld ever stays dead for long...

There are other things that can impact combat as well, such as domain and coda cards which you will collect throughout the game, the wanderers' own abilities that can be unlocked as they progress, or condition cards that can beset you. But this should give you a basic understanding of the system.

Now that we know how combat works against Terrors let's see two of them activate in-depth!

Deeper into Terrors

We'll start with a continued look at our previous example Terror, Patient Hysteria.

Hysteria's Terror card again for reference.

Passive Ability

First, let's take a look at Hysteria's passive ability.  Every terror has a passive effect. In fact, each Terror, Malformation, and Abomination has one, so it's something you'll see a lot to add spice to every horror you face. For Hysteria, while she's on the game board, the eye domain's basic domain effect is banned. Normally, wanderers use eye domains to prevent wounds by spending them from their wanderer dashboard as well as rolling them in a defense test. But with Hysteria, that is no longer an option. This is an incredibly dangerous effect because wanderers can essentially no longer defend themselves while Hysteria lives.

Another thing you may have noticed about Hysteria is that she has a thing for eyes. (All of her abilities rely on them in one way or another.) This is because Hysteria's eyes were stolen from her during her time as a patient at the asylum, resulting in her having to rely on the Otherworld for her sight. Furthermore, after her suffering drove her to hysterics, she wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to share her pain (and her blindness.) Who knows, maybe she'll even find some new eyes from some unfortunate victim on her travels.


Each time a Terror activates, it will perform only one of the actions from its action sequence (unless otherwise stated.) It will always perform the top action that it can currently legally take - assuming it has the mental capacity to complete it. 

Looking again at Hysteria, we see her first action has a cost of 2 mental capacity. If she doesn't still have that available, she won't be able to do anything. At the top of the ability is the action's requirement, which is that no wanderer can be in her space. If that requirement is fulfilled, she will move toward the nearest wanderer with the most eye domains. (Should she have eye domains in her domain rifts, she will also move one additional space for each eye domain rift she has.) 

If there is a wanderer in her space, though, then she will skip her first action and move onto her second. This one also costs 2 mental capacity and requires that a wanderer is in Hysteria's space. If that requirement is met, then she will deal two green damage to a wanderer in that space. If there is a sphere in her domain rifts, she will also deal additional purple damage based on how many eye domains the targeted wanderer has. (And that damage is nothing to sneeze at since the wanderer won't be able to use eye domains to defend against it!) The one saving grace here is that the Terror's action doesn't specifically mention what wanderer to attack, as long as the wanderer is in the same space. So, if there are two wanderers and one has no eye domains while the other has four, you will want to choose the one with none. (Furthermore, if you see that your friend is about to take a ton of damage due to how many eye domains he has, then you could always jump into his and Hysteria's space to take the blow for him before Hysteria can activate again.) 

Of course, none of this matters if the Terror doesn't have at least two mental capacity. If that happens, the Terror must negate its remaining mental capacity and move directly into the "zero" section of the mental capacity track. When that happens, her activation ends immediately. She won't activate again until the next round. 

Symptom Bile

Symptom Bile's Terror card.

Now let's move away from our friend Hysteria and turn to another Terror: Symptom Bile. Now that we have most of the basics down, I'll move through this one a bit quicker.

Bile's passive effect is that while it is on the game board, each wanderer's maximum health is reduced by one. How positively vile of Bile! What's even worse, though, is that this effect is cumulative with similar effects - and all Symptoms share this passive effect. Its maximum health is only five, but its mental capacity is six, giving it plenty of opportunities to do nasty things. Lastly, if a wanderer kills it, she will receive two existence as her reward.

For its first action, it will see if there is a wanderer in its space. If there isn't, it will spend two mental capacity to move toward the nearest one. If there is, though, then it will move onto its second ability.

If one or more wanderers with the Weakened condition occupy its space, then Bile will spend three mental capacity to deal two purple damage to one of them. If it has a sphere domain rift, then it will also deal 1 additional purple damage.

And lastly, if both of the other actions are unavailable, then Symptom will perform its third action, spending two mental capacity to Weaken a wanderer. (And if there's a brain domain rift on its card, then it can perform this action again for free!)

That ends our look at Terrors. Many of the things we've covered here (such as domain rifts and action sequences) apply to a number of the horrors in the Otherworld, though, including the Malformations. So hopefully, this will give you a good overall idea of how many of the Otherworld's denizens will interact with the wanderers (and vice-versa.) 

Well, that will do it for this update! We'll talk with you all again soon, but in the meantime, I hope you have a great few weeks! Bye for now.

Progress News and Glimpses of Stories
2 months ago – Thu, Apr 01, 2021 at 03:42:29 AM

Hey guys! I hope you've had a great few weeks. I have a few things to talk with you about today. First, we have some factory pictures, then a game progress update, and then a few snippets from stories to show you. Let's get going.  


Cherry was at the factory this week and was able to get some pictures of the continued miniature refinement process. As of right now, all of the wave-one steel molds are done. However, the factory is still testing the minis, so what you'll see below are all just works-in-progress. For starters, they are all the wrong color. (LOL!) Next, most of these tests are in a very soft material and not at all the hard plastic that the final minis are. So, while these are far from the final quality, we thought it would still be fun to show you some of the current behind-the-scenes photos. Without further ado, let's start with some steel molds!

A whole bunch of steel molds!
Here are the cores of the steel molds.
Here is one of the cores opened.
Here is some testing work being done. I'm going to take an educated guess that this is part of Mama's Boy.
Here are the steel molds being put together.
It's like a puzzle game!
Molds assemble!
Here are our molds starting to overrun the factory.

Okay, that's enough of the steel molds. (There were actually twice that many pictures, but I figured you might get sick of metal if we showed them all. LOL!)

Now, let's move onto a few test samples fresh from the molds (after a bit of assembly work.) As I mentioned above, these are just samples and should not be seen as reflecting the final quality of the miniatures. These are just WIPs for fun. First up, we have Eminent Glory!

Here's the front of Eminent Glory - please keep in mind this is just a sample and is not finalized.
Here's her back.
And here's Masquerade Bliss!
Here's a tub of Masquerades, Rages, and sprues!
Here's a Rage Boomerang!
More Mama's Boy parts.
Twin Sister!

I hope you enjoyed that look at miniatures in the making! 

Game Progress

Now, I wanted to bring up something a little more frustrating. As some of you have suspected, it looks like we will have a delay in getting Dawn of Madness out to you. I'm really sorry about this. After our meeting last night, though, we realized it was unavoidable at this point. We don't know for how long yet, but we wanted to make sure we were completely up-front with you and let you know as soon as we did. 

There are three big reasons for this delay (which, once again, I think many of you could guess): First, the game redesign/overhaul. We knew we had a ton of work ahead of us when we set our initial estimate, but we weren't planning for nearly as much as we ended up doing. Second, COVID. Surprise, surprise.  And, third, me. LOL. Probably a lot of you have noticed I've been quieter in the comments and on social media than I like to be. (And I apologize again for those of you who haven't heard back via email yet, too.) That's because I've been trying to slam through the DoM stories, but they still haven't gone as quickly as I wanted. Combine that with my Deep Madness novel Shattered Seas taking longer to finish last year than we were expecting, and you have me pretty squarely running behind. 

We are really sorry about this delay. We really hate running behind. Honestly, it chafes us something fierce. But it is what it is. And, as we talked last night, I was reminded again of why we started working on this game. (WARNING: Byron's personal thoughts incoming!)

I realize I am much too close to this project to surmise its quality accurately, but it feels like we're making something really special here. I know DoM has been compared a lot to Etherfields in the past (and don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed Etherfields), but this feels like something unique. Of course, this is just my opinion, and I am fully aware that this game will only ever be for a very select group of gamers who really love horror. But there's a depth to the story's layers and how you dive into it here that I can't think of any other board game attempting. Does that mean it's any good? You'll have to tell me when you get to play it. But I think I can safely say it's certainly unusual and ambitious. I think there are moments of this experience that will burn themselves indelibly into players' minds (especially if you dig deep into the game), and I can't wait to show you more so that you can experience it for yourselves.

Anyway, that's enough of me pontificating. I do want to say once again, though, that we are so grateful to you for joining us on this ride through all of its ups, downs, and bumps. We wouldn't be able to make this game without you, and we are not taking that lightly. This game exists thanks to you, and we're working to make sure we can all be proud of this horrid, monstrous baby we've all helped create.

Some Stories

Some of you might wonder what makes these stories so different from other games' narratives, so Roger thought we'd share some segments from a couple of Emily's encounters. These are all texts from Emily's storybook, so be warned: THIS IS FULL-ON SPOILER COUNTRY! Having said that, we tried to select segments that didn't give very much away. They aren't structured like they are in the game, either (some are several segments combined with all of the gameplay elements and choices removed, some are cut, some are just completely out of context.) Plus, some of these options you might not even come across if you don't unearth them. So, even if you start to get an idea of what you think is going on, that might be only one variant of the story or something that will change with further information.

These segments aren't the scariest or weirdest parts in the game. Far from it, in most cases. But they do hopefully offer a glimpse into how the story could possibly take shape as you're playing. Furthermore, they also give a peek into some of the varying emotions you'll see (and hopefully feel) when playing the game. That's because Dawn of Madness isn't just about the scares: it's also about diving deep into the fractured psyches of the wanderers. There are moments of tenderness, loss, regret, and even bittersweetness scattered in-between the violence and blood and horror. These are very bruised, broken people, which often gives them greater opportunity to become (or act like) monsters. (This goes for many of the actual monsters, too.) While you'll find many moments when playing that remind you of fun popcorn horror, there are also many moments that will bring to mind movies (or shows) more along the lines of Hereditary, The Babadook, Midsommar, or The Haunting of Hill House series. (And, of course, comparisons to Silent Hill are undoubtedly inescapable.)

I put images with each segment that can augment the various stories. Some you've seen before, some you haven't, but hopefully, they'll help to set the atmosphere. Now I'll stop talking, and you can read the stories. (Or just skip the rest of the update if you don't want any potential spoilers.)


This place shouldn’t exist. You know that to the very core of your being. And yet, here it is.

The air crackles with a strange static energy, shimmering like broken glass. You stare down the spiral staircase into that dizzying abyssal midnight, wondering if it will devour you whole if you venture too deep. Perhaps, in the end, it doesn’t matter. Either way, you know you must descend.

You step methodically down the stairway, trying not to look at the giant faces of broken dolls observing you from the walls, their glass eyes swiveling unsettlingly to follow you. Old TVs crackling with electric snow and tall full-length mirrors are interspersed between the heads, the televisions filling the space with a droning hiss. You realize the only light in this stairwell comes from these screens.

“They don’t love you as they love her,” the giant baby doll heads whisper. “They never did. They never will.”

“That’s not true,” you murmur. “That’s not true! They loved me! They just… had a hard time showing it.”

“Then why did they make you her slave?” the faces ask. “Why did they dote on her and cast you aside?”

The television screens flicker beside you, then solidify into an image. You see a bedraggled girl with stringy hair crawling up a spiral staircase. It looks like the same one you’re walking down. The girl looks up. She has your face. It seems that she’s staring right into your soul.

“I’m coming for you, sister,” the girl croaks. “Don’t you fear. I’m coming.” She smiles. The gesture looks warm. Caring. It soaks your soul in dread.

Gathering every strand of your courage, you take another step down the staircase. Then another. And one more. She is growing closer. You watch her ascend on the television screens, crawling like an insect up the stairs.

“There’s something wrong with you, Emily,” the girl on the TV says. “It’s rippling through your veins and wriggling beneath your skin. But don’t worry. I’m coming.”

“I don’t want your help,” you reply. “You hurt me more than any other person. Even more than they did. They only harmed me because of you. I’ve been there for you for as long as I can remember. How much more must I give?”

“They hated you,” the baby doll heads whisper, giggling like children. “Your life had less value than hers. If they could have made you trade places, they would have.”

The stairs shift and shudder. Peering over the edge, you see black bile bubbling deep down the staircase’s spiral. It’s rising, consuming stair after stair as it expands.

The air squeals, and then it shatters along with all of the mirrors. Shards of glass erupt around you, puncturing you, cutting you. You yelp and scream, trying to cover your face as you crouch down.

“It’s okay, Emily,” a dark, rumbling voice says. “I’m here now.”

Looking up, you see a woman towering over you. Matted hair stained black by ichor hangs over a face that is terrifyingly like looking in a mirror. She is growing taller and taller as something bulges and writhes under her skin. It is transforming her, struggling to escape. One long insectoid leg pierces through her side.

“We’re together now,” the woman rumbles. “Just you, me, and Mr. Tumblethorn. You’re safe now. I won’t let anyone hurt you again.”

The woman leans down toward you, and you see something trying to push its way out of her mouth. You shriek as she wraps her arms around you and howl as you feel the two of you begin to merge. Looking down, you watch in horror as you see your arm sliding into her stomach.


“She’s trying to steal you from me,” Laura says, tears staining her cheeks. “I won’t let it happen, Emily. You’re my twin, not hers. We are whole when we’re together.”

“Laura?” you whisper. “But how… How did I get here?”

Laura is moving through the shadows, coming closer to you every moment. She looks so small. So fragile. She steps into the light and embraces you. You wrap your arms around her in return.

“It’s okay, Emily,” Laura says. “I won’t let her hurt you anymore.”

“I don’t understand what’s going on, Laura,” you say, tears streaming down your cheeks. “Everything has grown so dark. So twisted. I can’t keep my thoughts together or separate what’s true from what’s false.”

“I know,” Laura murmurs. “I understand. But it’ll be okay, you’ll see. Soon the symphony will echo through us both.” She squeezes you tighter. “You feel this? This is love. This is what it feels to be complete. Right here and now. With just the two of us.”

Something is off. Something is wrong. But, frankly, you don’t care right now. You’re tired of feeling scared, of being chased. You just want to be here with your twin.

Closing your eyes, you rest your head on Laura’s shoulder and take a deep breath. This feels nice. Perhaps this is indeed how a family is supposed to be.

Your hand brushes something thin and coarse jutting out of Laura’s waist. Raising your hand back up, you ignore it. For just this once, you don’t need to know.


Trepidatiously, you enter the attic, a tray of food clutched in your hands. Once inside the room, though, you pause, momentarily startled. Your sister is nowhere to be seen. Where could she have gone?

“Sis?” you call, setting down the tray on a nearby box. “Are you in here?”

You hear the titter of laughter above your head and look up into the rafters. You gasp. Your sister dangles above you, her teeth bared. Her pupils are dilated, making her eyes look almost black. You notice she has fashioned a noose and tied it to a rafter.

“Hello, Emily,” she says, her voice too low. Too dark. “I’ve missed you.”

Your sister drops from the ceiling, landing on top of you. You cry out as the air is knocked from your lungs. She has you pinned down. You can’t move.

“The static burns inside my head,” your sister says. Her voice is a deep bass now, but there’s also a tinge of something else. It’s almost like a radio tuned between stations. “Within my throat. I feel it moving in there, scratching up toward my mouth. Do you see it, Emily? Is it on my tongue?”

Your sister opens her mouth, and you see something like snow on a television buzzing near her larynx. Whatever it is, it makes you squirm and writhe and look away. Gritting your teeth, you squeeze your eyes shut and say, “What’s the noose for, sis? Why did you make that? Are you… feeling like you’re going to use it?”

Your sister grabs the sides of her skull and scurries off you with a long, low moan. “It’s all coming down, Emily. Something’s about to snap. I don’t know if it will be you or me, but we can’t keep going like this. I see what our parents are doing to you. You know what they’ve done to me. Is the noose for you? Or maybe for me? Is it for them? I can’t remember. I don’t understand. Maybe it doesn’t matter.”

You can’t take it any longer. You start backing slowly away, toward the door.

“They won’t let us leave, Emily,” your sister growls. “Not until one of us is dead. I feel the blood pulsing below my skin. It is singing to me. Will you be the one to let it out?”

“Why are you doing this to me?” you murmur, tears streaming down your face. “I’ve only ever tried to help!”

“Do you hate me, Emily?” your sister asks, scuttling toward you again. “Do you resent me? Do you fear me?”

“Yes,” you say. “Yes, I resent you! Is that what you want to hear? I don’t exist anymore because of you! They’ve made me nothing but a nameless slave for you!”

Your sister’s lip curls upward into a snarl. Her face is inches from yours. “Then we’re one step closer to the end, aren’t we? How do you think it’s going to turn out?”


Drawing your attention away from the pharmacy’s oddities, you turn to the clipboard hanging from a nail hammered into the side of a case. It’s thick with old, yellowed paper, and you quickly realize it’s a medication list with patient’s names scrawled below each medicine. You flip through the pages, searching for anything useful, and land at last on a listing described as a powerful anti-psychotic drug. The description declares that it is meant to “suppress foreign voices in the patient’s mind, as well as lessen the severity and frequency of hallucinations, visions, and night terrors. Can be used in combination with other substances to make the patient more docile and less prone to problematic delusions or destructive tendencies.”

There’s something simultaneously interesting and repulsive about this medication’s description, though you’re not entirely sure what. Your eyes scroll down the patient list, and you land on three names interspersed throughout them: Laura Bingham, Elizabeth Hawkins, and Emily Hawkins.


You feel out of sorts as you step into this place, as if something is amiss. It must be time for your medication. Reaching into your pocket, you pull out the bottle of pills and take one.

The world peels back, and you step into a scene of utter bedlam. You notice to your left a doctor injecting a patient with something. Then, as the patient collapses to the ground in convulsions, the doctor sits on his chest and begins making slow, methodical cuts on the patient’s skin with a scalpel. Behind and around you, you see that patients are literally climbing the walls, yipping and squealing as they claw at the wallpaper. One swings down above your head, a stick with metal shards jutting from it clutched in his hand.

Gritting your teeth, you rush into the pharmacy, slamming the door behind you. Inside, you see a young woman talking with the pharmacist, who has just shut up the window through which he would typically speak to patients. He turns back to the woman as she begins sobbing.

“Doctor, please,” she murmurs. “I’m so afraid.”

“These are… trying times, to be sure, my girl,” the pharmacist replies, placing a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “I wish I knew what caused these terrors. I wish I could discern the source of the mania. But it seems we’ve all gone rather mad now, haven’t we? Part of me wonders if Hass or the junk he put in the basement has anything to do with this. But I suppose that’s just as crazy as anything else, isn’t it? How ironic that the wardens are now as insane as the inmates!”

“I need the medication,” the girl says. “Please, I can feel the darkness rising inside me. I don’t know how much longer I can fight it.”

The pharmacist begins tittering. He tries to stop it by covering his mouth, but that doesn’t help. Tears well in his eyes. “It’s all gone,” he says. “I’ve used every ounce of it, either on myself or others. We’re all alone.”

“Then… Then I’ll just make it myself!” the woman cries.

Now the pharmacist begins guffawing. “You can’t! I’m out of the ingredients! It made me destroy everything. We’re truly on our own, Emily.”

Emily begins to weep. Then she pulls out a knife and stabs the pharmacist over and over in his stomach. He crumples to the ground, but Emily doesn’t stop even as he begins trying to crawl away. The pharmacist reaches for a bone saw that he has stashed on a shelf. He must have stolen it from the surgical ward. Emily slaps it from his hand, then picks it up herself. With a howl, she descends on the pharmacist’s head.

And that's it for the story segments. I hope you liked them. As I said, they aren't the perfect representations of what to expect in the game, but in the confines of what we were trying to do (give you a taste of the story without spoiling much of anything), hopefully, they at least offer an idea of what may (or may not) be going on. 

That's it for this update. Have a great week, my friend! We'll talk to you again soon!

The Sentience of Domains
4 months ago – Thu, Feb 25, 2021 at 03:13:44 AM

Hey, guys! We're back with another deep dive into a core Dawn of Madness mechanic. This one is pretty important gameplay-wise and was a somewhat controversial subject during the campaign, so let's get into it and see what has changed and what has stayed the same! 

First, though, I know some of you are wondering about the status of production. Unfortunately, I don't have much that's substantive to report right now. I'm still furiously writing DoM stories, the team is still tweaking gameplay, and the overall look of the game is coming together little by little while the content is slowly but surely taking shape. The factory has begun performing tests to finalize the miniature tooling for the wave one stuff. We're also still playing with the gameboard to create the perfect merging of usability and creepy awesomeness. 

I know some have also wondered when we would finally hard-close the pledge manager, but we don't have a set date for that yet. So, there's still some time to finalize your order if you haven't yet or add stuff to it if you would like. (If your order has already been locked, we will have to unlock it for you or add stuff on our end if you want to add stuff. Should you want to do that, send an email to byron@diemensiongames.com, and I'll try to help you out with that.)

Now, let's get onto domains and sentience! This will be kind of a long one (for which I apologize up-front), so strap in!

Domains and Sentience

This was an area with a great deal of discussion during the campaign. Some opted for complicated but flavorful terms for everything, and others wanted something simpler they could remember. Well, we spent a lot of time thinking about this, and we came to a decision. 

We have decided to keep these terms very simple. This might, on initial inspection, seem to indicate that they are then basic, bland, and boring. But they are not. They are actually very complex, with a wide variety of meanings. Allow me to explain.

Essentially, we didn't want to limit ourselves to only one meaning for each symbol and color. For instance, the color green can mean many things, as can an eye or a hand with tentacle fingers. So, while the names are intentionally simple, the meanings behind each item are not.

Let's start by taking a closer look at sentience, which is the basis for a great deal in DoM.


Just for a refresher, here are the five sentience icons:

The five sentience icons, reflecting the five colors used in DoM.

These icons (and colors) are everywhere in Dawn of Madness.  But what do they mean? Let's find out.

Sentience is synonymous with consciousness. It reflects what you perceive and feel. So, for the wanderers in DoM, sentience reflects their consciousness - and how much of it they have to use in a world that is literally a conscious nightmare made flesh. Each symbol is named for its color, and each color covers a variety of topics:

 Red sentience can mean: 

  • Aggressive
  • Taking action/active
  • Violent
  • Impactful/meaningful
  • Exertion
  • Passion
  • Power
  • Energy
  • Danger
  • Dominance
  • Love

Red favors the hand domain because it is the domain of power and action. 

Green sentience can mean:

  • Defensive
  • Introspective
  • Cautious
  • Self-knowledge
  • Tranquil
  • Envious
  • Awareness
  • Luck
  • Tuned to nature

Green favors the eye domain because the eye stands for awareness and cognition.

Yellow sentience can mean: 

  • Empathetic
  • Optimistic
  • Kind
  • Dependent on the environment
  • Imagination
  • Creative
  • Helpful
  • Hopeful
  • Naive 

Yellow favors the skull domain because the skull stands for integration and collectivity.  

Blue sentience can mean: 

  • Calculative
  • Cold
  • Broad-minded
  • Sadness
  • Calmness
  • Aloof
  • Productive
  • Sincere

Blue favors the brain because the brain stands for the mind's reasoning and cognition.

Purple sentience can mean:

  • Unknown
  • Weird/strange/bizarre
  • Mystery
  • Wisdom
  • Soothing
  • Symbolic
  • Otherworldly

Purple favors the sphere because the sphere stands for the unknown and potential.

So, as you can see, each color can have various meanings during the game, dependent largely on the situation - though each of them does lean in a certain direction. This favoritism is expressed partially in each sentience's dice. The dice have at least one of every domain on them, but two faces on each die feature the favored domain, making it more likely for you to roll the hand on red and the brain on blue. 

Each wanderer's personality is a unique mix of sentience as well, making some better at some actions and situations than others. Here's a look at Catherine's dashboard:

Catherine's dashboard, featuring her sentience limits, as well as sentience cubes in each domain circle (and metal tokens below for good measure.)

We can actually discern some things about Catherine's character just by looking at this dashboard. For instance, at a glance, we can see there is something very unusual and otherworldly about Catherine - much more than the other wanderers. She can get angry or passionate from time to time, but she is also extremely defensive and cautious. Meanwhile, she has very little calmness or empathy. 

Hopefully, it's clear why we've chosen to go in this direction rather than limiting the sentience to names with a much more limited scope. These things seem overly simplistic on the surface, but there is a great deal of psychology and thought that has gone into each one in practice. (And, honestly, we were all going to roll the red dice or spend the purple cubes anyway, right?)


Now onto domains. Domains are how wanderers manipulate and interact with the Otherworld and its denizens. This is expressed through the dice, the symbols on the wanderers' dashboards (which are actually like shallow cups) where usable sentience cubes/tokens are stored, and domain cards and actions.

The term "domain" is one that Roger and the team have liked for a very long time. It showed up in Deep Madness, it's integral in Dawn of Madness, and it's also making an appearance in Celestial. It is essentially the area or aspect that a conscious being (whether an investigator, a wanderer, a terror, or a unit) can control, manipulate, or dominate (at least for a moment.) Once again, we have gone as basic as we could with the titles - which allows them to have a multitude of meanings. Here are the five symbols for you to take another look at:

Looking at these symbols, I'm guessing you can figure out the names for each. But the names aren't what's important: it's what each symbol does that matters.

A sentience color can become any domain, but every color does have one domain that it favors, as mentioned above. Domains have a wide variety of applications in-game, but we'll get to those later. For now, let's focus on what each one means.

The hand domain can be used for:

  • Control
  • Change
  • Influence
  • Attacking
  • Wielding
  • Exertion
  • Manipulation

The hand domain also has a special ability (as do all of the domains.) A player could spend a hand domain from the wanderer's dashboard to reroll (one could say manipulate) any number of dice of the same color - a convenient feature in a high-stress situation. 

The eye domain can be used for:

  • Awareness
  • Cognition
  • Discerning
  • Alertness
  • Investigation
  • Reflexes

Eye domains can keep you from taking damage.  When you perform a defense test against a specific sentience color, every eye die-roll result can prevent a point of damage. Additionally, you can spend same-colored eye domains from your dashboard to prevent even more damage.

The skull domain is a bit more specialized. It can be used for:

  • Integrating with other wanderers
  • Assisting those in need
  • Merging your mind with others
  • Connecting or breaking a connection
  • Working as a collective

Skull domains help your fellow wanderers. When another wanderer performs an important test of a specific sentience color, spending a skull domain from your dashboard will temporarily boost your friend's sentience in that color by one, thus allowing an additional die to be rolled. This can be especially critical when your friend's level in a particular sentience color is really low, such as one or two.

The brain domain can be used for: 

  • Intelligence
  • Mental capacity
  • Breadth of thought
  • Depth of thought
  • Problem-solving
  • Comprehension
  • Outsmarting
  • Conscious energy

The brain domain has a very useful in-game ability. You can spend a brain domain rather than losing 1 point of mental capacity, which gives you more possible actions and activations during a game. So, if an abomination has you cornered, and you're too exhausted to do anything about it, just spend a brain domain, and you suddenly have a whole range of new options open to you.

And now we get to the weird one. The sphere can be used for:

  • Increasing potential
  • Channeling strange energies
  • Pulling from the Otherworld
  • Delving into unknown conscious depths
  • Substitution
  • Embracing or overcoming weirdness

The sphere domain is wild. That means that it can be spent as a different domain of the same sentience color. 

In addition to each domain having its own special power that can be used as needed by spending cubes/tokens from your dashboard, each one is also able to be spent to supplement dice roll results. 


Sentience and domains show up all over in DoM. Consciousness is the currency in DoM, with sentience and domains forming consciousness's frontline of defense and offense both for you and your enemies. Let's look at a few places domains and sentience appear in the game.

In Encounters

Regularly in encounters (the story elements of DoM), you will be asked to test for a certain type of sentience. For instance, say a monster suddenly rises up in front of you, its multitude of arms stretching toward you. The game might then ask you to test blue for eye. To do this, you would roll all of your available blue dice (as determined by the blue icon's number on your wanderer dashboard, plus any accumulated modifiers.) If you get an eye (or use one from your dashboard), then you would pass the test - and discover that there is something about this monster that seems strangely familiar. It almost feels like... it's family. As if being with it is like coming home. If you failed the test, though, then you might have to fight the thing - a harrowing, violent battle that the monster does not survive. Each test would lead to wildly different outcomes, with variant rewards and unique consequences.

In addition, you will often receive domains as rewards for completing encounters. (Sometimes for a victory, sometimes as a consolation prize of sorts.)

On World Shards

As mentioned previously, there are three sentience icons in the upper-right corner of a World Shard. Wanderers can perform a domain action to gain more domains based on these three icons. (More on this in Domain Action below.)

Fighting Enemies

This is something we'll cover more in a future update on Terrors. For now, though, we'll just say that the Terrors absorb the conscious energy from the world around them and use it to attack and defend against you. You'll have to attack them in turn by using your domains and dice to target the conscious energy they've absorbed from the world around them.

Additionally, you also use them to fight against Malformations, Abominations, and, in some cases, Final Bosses. (For more on Malformations, go here, and for more on Abominations, go here and here. We'll have an update on Final Bosses in the future.)

Domain Cards

These are extremely useful and flavorful parts of the game. You'll learn more about them below.

Event Phase

Domain requirements or rewards will sometimes show up in the event phase, too.

In addition to these places, you can always use your domains' special abilities when needed. 

Domain Action

The last thing we'll cover in this update is the domain action.  A wanderer can spend one mental capacity to perform a domain action once per round.  When performing a domain action, you have a choice to make: you can either gain three domain tokens/cubes or gain a domain card. 

When you want to glean additional domains for your dashboard, you will choose the first option. To do this, you will look at the three sentience icons in the upper-left corner of a World Shard, then roll three dice that match the icons' colors. Those three dice results will determine your new domains, which you will then add to your dashboard. 

Claude is on a World Shard with two green and one yellow sentience, so he would roll one yellow and two green dice to determine his new domains.

Doing this is like siphoning domains directly from the Otherworld, leeching power from the very nightmarish locations that would try to destroy you.  You are denizens of this place, after all, whether you like it or not. You might as well make use of it. 

If you decide to gain a domain card instead, you will draw the top card from the domain deck. You can have a maximum of four domain cards at a time (at least until you upgrade that limit.) Domain cards are like objects of power that you scrounge from the space around you - though sometimes they could be more like a feeling or premonition than a physical thing. Domain cards can be standard cards available anywhere in the Otherworld or unique to a given wanderer's world.  Here are three sample domain cards:

Three domain cards. Each features an ability underneath the art and three usable domains at the bottom.

The first two are regular domain cards, while the straight jacket is unique to Emily's world (which you can tell by the syringe beneath the title.) Certain plot-specific cards can also be unlocked while playing the game. Once unlocked, they are available for wanderers to draw during the current game and any future games.

When you want to use a domain card, you have two options. First, you can follow the game effect text in the center of the card. If you need some extra domains for a test, you can instead choose to spend the domains listed on the bottom of the card. If you decide to use the card as extra domains, then you would discard the card after use. However, you will often be able to keep the card if you simply use the effect text. (An interesting factoid: the domain icons along the bottom of the cards aren't random. They show what energies are radiating off of the item and also hint at what conscious energies were used to forge it in the first place.) 

Well, I think that about covers domains and sentience. Though, there's one other thing that I think might be asked: will these descriptions be in the rulebook? And the answer is, yes. We will have descriptions for what the sentience colors and the domain symbols mean in the rules, so you'll be able to have a good idea of what you're doing when you have to "roll red for brain." 

Whew! If you read all the way to the end of this update, give yourself a pat on the back. I'm sure you'll be relieved to hear that's it for this update! I hope you have a great couple of weeks, and we will talk with you again as soon as we can.  Bye for now!

The Abominations Rise - Part Two
5 months ago – Wed, Jan 20, 2021 at 08:25:15 PM

Hey guys! Sorry for the radio silence recently. I hope you had a great holiday season and that 2021 has offered at least some glimmers of hope ahead for you. For our part, we're plowing ahead with Dawn of Madness and looking forward to showing you more in the coming weeks and months. In our last update, we started diving into those lovable, destructive goofballs, the abominations. This update will cover the remaining information about them, specifically regarding devour tokens and cards and their legacy family effects. (If you want a refresher on the rest of how abominations work, you can read part one here.)

Legacy Effects

The legacy effects for an abomination family have changed a bit in the current game. For starters (as I believe we mentioned in the last update), you no longer have to stick to using all four of the abominations from a single family in a row. You can play with a Masquerade one game, then switch to a Rage the next one. This is a much more malleable way of playing the game, but that did leave the family progression a little bit in the lurch since you couldn't anticipate who would be the next abomination (and mixing cards together from different families would turn into a big mess.) We've been trying to avoid the need for too much bookkeeping between games (say, with a checklist or notepad,) and we saw how the abominations could quickly lead us in that direction if we weren't careful. So, we mixed things up. 

On the back of the abomination sheet, you'll find two options: a positive outcome and a negative one. (Please keep in mind that this is still in testing and could change. For instance, there could end up being more outcomes if they're needed.) Here's a look at the back of Rage Frenzy's sheet:

The back of the Rage Frenzy abomination card (WIP.)

Which outcome you get is dependent on if you kill the abomination. (Currently, you only have to kill it once, but that may change as testing continues.) If you succeed in killing it, then each wanderer will get a reward except for the central wanderer. (The central wanderer will get a unique reward from the finale to make up for this.) In Frenzy's case, the three wanderers can choose between receiving max HP +1 (which will be kept forever), green sentience +1 (which also will be kept forever), and three existence (not kept forever, but still an invaluable resource.) However, if you fail to kill the abomination, then you will receive the negative effect listed in the red box at the bottom. 

To show that your wanderer has been upgraded from session to session, each wanderer who received a stat boost will get a token reflecting it, which will be kept with the wanderers' other components inside their dedicated storage boxes from that moment forward. If you fail, though, then you will activate a new game component: the lineage card.

The Rage lineage card (WIP.)
The Masquerade lineage card (WIP.)

The lineage card will activate after every game where the wanderers failed to defeat an abomination. When this happens, you will simply take that abomination's lineage token and keep it with the card. When setting up the next game, you will place all of the tokens stored with the lineage card on their spaces. All of those effects with a token marking them are now active. (Yes, that does mean you can have multiple abomination legacy effects active in a single game.) An abomination's token will remain active until the next time you fight that particular abomination. If you can successfully defeat it then, you will remove the token and deactivate its lineage effect. If you don't, then the effect remains active until you decide to try it again.

The wanderers did pretty poorly the last couple of games. As such, they currently have two tokens on the lineage card, thus activating Fury and Frenzy's lineage effects. Those effects will remain active until those abominations are successfully defeated in a future game.
Masquerade Bliss's lineage token.

Both the negative and positive effects are resolved immediately following the wanderer stage, right before moving into the finale. So, if you successfully killed the abomination, then three of the wanderers will go into the finale with a little extra boost. And, if you didn't kill it, then that will just be one more lingering dread hanging over your heads. 

Devour Tokens and Cards

The other thing we haven't discussed yet regarding the abominations are the devour tokens and cards. So let's do that!

Devour tokens are spawned in a variety of ways. They will most often appear on world shards during the refresh phase, but sometimes the abomination or an in-game effect will spawn them during the action phases. Those tokens will mess with wanderers in two different ways: first, by nerfing tests during the action phase, and, second, by activating nasty effects in the refresh phase. 

Here's how the devour tokens work during the action phase. First of all, devour tokens will never activate when the abomination is off the board. (When you kill the abomination, it will be temporarily removed from the game board until it has completely regenerated its health, as we mentioned in the last update. Just one more reason you'll want to kill the thing!) If it is on the board, though, when a wanderer takes an action requiring them to perform a test (such as an encounter) on any world shard featuring devour tokens, the wanderer must draw a devour card for each token on the world shard. Those cards will feature one or more sentience color symbols, and the wanderer will be forced to roll fewer dice during that test equal to the number of symbols shown on the card(s).

There are two devour tokens on her world shard, so Catherine must draw two devour cards. Based on those cards' sentience icons, she now has to roll two fewer red dice and one fewer blue dice for this test. (For reference purposes, the card on the left is a standard Otherworld devour card, while the one on the right is specific to Rage Ire.)

During the refresh phase, though, the cards work a little differently when they're triggered. In that case, if there are devour tokens on your world shard, then you will resolve only one devour card regardless of the number of tokens on the world shard. Furthermore, rather than looking at the sentience colors/symbols, you will instead follow the card's effect text. So, if you drew the card shown below, you wouldn't be able to perform move actions until you paid three brain domains to discard the card. (Yikes!)

During the refresh phase, Catherine would draw one devour card and apply the effect text. In this case, she could not perform move actions until she spent 3 brain domains of any sentience to discard the card.

That's a glimpse into how the devour cards and tokens work, but now I have a question for you. For those familiar with our previous game, Deep Madness, you will likely know that the devour tokens were one of the most divisive parts of that game. We wondered if they would have a similar reaction for people in this game (even though they are implemented differently.) While removing them would lower some of the abomination's power over wanderers, it would also make the game easier and remove a couple of components for players to think about. In the end, we decided they added too much to take them out altogether, but we also thought we'd ask you, would you like them to be optional? Let us know down in the comments if you would (or if you definitely wouldn't.) 

In the spirit of shorter updates, that's where we'll end it for today. We'll try to be back soon with another one for you, though. We failed pretty badly in delivering faster updates the past month or so, but we'll work to pick that back up now. Should we stumble again, though, take heart: it's likely because I'm off writing DoM stories so we can show you more (and ultimately get you your games) as soon as possible. 

Have a great day, and we'll talk with you again soon!

Join Me For a Live Stream!
6 months ago – Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 12:03:27 PM

Hey guys! I'm going to be live streaming starting at 2 pm PST today (just under one hour from now,) so come hang out!

There will be a couple of firsts in this live stream: first, I'll be doing it with my friend Jeff from Soundbooth Theater as we discuss the Shattered Seas audiobooks, and it should also be the very first stream where I successfully stream to both Facebook and YouTube at the same time! Woohoo! (It only took me something like two years to figure it out... LOL!)

So, this stream will mainly be focused on the new novel Deep Madness: Shattered Seas which just released (you can check it out here), but I'd love for you to stop by with your Dawn of Madness questions and comments anyway. 

Below are the two links. I hope you can come hang out for a little bit today!

Have a great day, Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas!