Solid Gold: Anna Urbanek Mines into The Geologist’s Primer, a Tabletop RPG Sourcebook about Stones, Crystals, and Metals

When you play a tabletop roleplaying game, you play in a world defined entirely by the spoken word. The game master defines the world, and the players react within those bounds. Those bounds are only set by the limits of human knowledge and imagination – and sometimes, that knowledge and imagination need a boost.

Anna Urbanek will expand those two all-important qualities as you dive into the many wonders and treasures of the earth itself in her new book. The Geologist’s Primer is currently available on Kickstarter.

Anna Urbanek is a Polish writer, graphic designer, and a librarian living a quiet life in a small house somewhere in the middle of a Finnish forest. Together with her partner, Jakub Wisz, she created Double Proficiency, an indie TTRPG company specializing in system-neutral adventures and supplements. Between writing about science and magic, they work on an upcoming sci-fi roleplaying game, Aphelion RPG.

It was my pleasure to interview Anna about The Geologist’s Primer.

Introduce us to your book! What can readers expect? 

“Geologist’s Primer” is a book about real-world magical rocks, minerals, and metals. It connects my all-time favorite topics: folklore, natural sciences, and tabletop roleplaying games. At its core, it’s my offering to all the people (like me) who spent way too much time mining and prospecting in MMOs and could never replicate the joy in at the RPG table, virtual or otherwise. There’s plenty of gaming supplements about plants, but very few that focus on the mineral world and alchemy. We’re always tempted with the promise of finding magic gemstones, but in the end, we’re only baited with the ‘1000gp worth of diamonds.’ I think we, enjoyers of shiny rocks, deserve better.

That’s why in this book you’ll find 100 illustrated entries covering various minerals, crystals, mineraloids, jewelry materials, metals, and fossils, from agate to zircon, from simple sand or granite to precious rainbow ammolites and star rubies. Each of them comes with a variety of magical properties sourced from folklore and occult, adjusted for practical use in fantasy and modern TTRPG settings. No rulesets included! The whole book is setting- and system-neutral, so you can use it not only to prepare a game as a game master, but also give it to player characters as an in-world item.

Because I make no assumptions about people’s level of geological lore, the book also comes with an introduction explaining all the necessary terms, various forms of earth and crystal magic, as well as a variety of appendices for extra real-world context, quick reference, and additional reading material. I think it all together makes a pretty cool book, but I wrote it, so feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt. “Geologist’s Primer” is a sequel to “Herbalist’s Primer,” a rather warmly received book on magical plants we crowdfunded about two years ago.

What can this book add to everyone’s tabletop campaigns?

Imagine your party went dungeoneering, as we all like to do. Maybe it’s an abandoned mine, maybe an ancient cave system, maybe an artificial underground complex. With “Geologist’s Primer,” you can easily fill it in with treasures, dangers, and encounters. The PCs found a bunch of gems? There are tables to quickly establish what they’re worth and how to use them. Are they interested in crafting and want to make their own magic items? A hundred recipes included for your convenience. Are you in need of made-up magical crystals? There are random generation tables waiting to be used.

But that’s not all: in the book, you’ll also find quest ideas, alchemy tools, piles of folklore for inspiration, convenient tables with magical properties, notes on mining operation and jewelry crafting, and many, many more.

We are also bringing this book to Roll20 and Alchemy RPG virtual tabletops for an easy, seamless experience when gaming!

Tell us a bit about the team behind this book!

Well, first of all, the team is wonderful. I’m taking care of writing, illustrations, and layout, but there are just so many people helping me make this book a reality. My partner Jakub is a talented writer, and he’s taking care of the chapter with quest hooks–adventure pebbles, as we called them. He’s also writing a 100 more quest hooks we unlocked as stretch goals, as well as two system-neutral adventures. In one of them, you get an interdimensional pet rock; I don’t think it could get any better.

But that’s not all! Our social media manager, Maggie Austin, is handling plenty of things on the social side, and Joshua Connor, a real geologist and science communicator, agreed to help us as a scientific editor. 

Furthermore, we have partnered up with Hunters Entertainment, a great TTRPG publisher you may know from games like Alice is Missing, Kids on Bikes, and Outbreak: Undead. Thanks to them, we’ll be able to turn my passion project into a whole library of books for tabletop roleplaying.

Where can everyone get a copy?

“Geologist’s Primer” is currently on Kickstarter! The campaign lasts until 27th July 2023, and has already been so successful that we unlocked a lot of stretch goals with additional free digital content and even some physical goodies. Many more to come, I hope! You can find it right here.

After the campaign, we’ll bring it to the wide market, of course, and hopefully, to many bookstores! You can always follow us and Hunters Entertainment on social media to stay on top of all the news.

Image Credit: Double Proficiency

Most importantly, what is your favorite mineral, metal, mineraloid, crystal, or good old stone?

So hard to pick! (All puns intended.) I think my favorite must be obsidian. There is just something inherently magical in this black volcanic glass. In the olden days–and well, up to these days–obsidian mirrors were used for divination, and I can confirm that staring into the near-perfect void helps your mind wander.

Thank you so much for your time, Anna!

What do you think? Will you be backing The Geologist’s Primer on Kickstarter? Let us know in the comments below, or head to our Discord channel to join the conversation.

Featured Image: The Geologist’s Primer

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