Dark fantasy, horror, and good old fashion tabletop roleplaying fun mix this week on RPG Spotlight as we dive into the Shadow of the Demon Lord.
Shadow of the Demon Lord is a game set in a world on the brink of apocalypse. Natural disasters and ancient horrors are let into the world regularly through cracks in reality, letting the Demon Lord’s eponymous shadow leak through and turn the world into something more evil and twisted. It’s a game that says, “What if D&D was a little more like Call of Cthulhu and the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying game?” and then goes ahead and succeeds at that exact thing.
Gameplay is pretty simplified, relying only on d20s and d6s for everything. d20 will be your stat roll, letting players determine success against opponents and or situations while the d6 is generally used for damage and calculating boons and banes – but we’ll get to those in a little bit. For most basic rolls, players will use a pretty simple list of four attributes and attribute scores. Strength, Agility, Intellect, and Will allow you to determine your stat modifiers and then add or subtract them from your d20 roll. Unopposed rolls always aim to beat a difficulty of ten while opposed rolls are determined by the force you are opposing. In addition to stats, characters have a list of banes and boons, or things that they’re bad at and things that they’re good at. With a boon, players can add a d6 to their roll, while a bane will subtract that same d6.
Character creation at the beginning of a campaign should be relatively easy and quick and result in players creating a team of level zero almost adventurers. After all, they haven’t really started down their path yet – the world only just started ending. Picking out the characters ancestry helps determines starting attribute scores as well as offering suggestions for other key parts of their background. Because this is a fantasy game there is a diverse and vibrant collection of ancestries to chose from including Changeling, Clockwork, Dwarf, Goblin, Human, and Orc. From here characters will choose their paths, which is similar to a class in D&D or a career tree in the Fantasy Flight games. Novice Paths are broad and lead to Expert Paths which are a little more specific and streamlined which eventually lead characters to their Master Path where they start to become the best in the world at what they do.
Once your characters are ready to go there are horrors to deal with and parts of their self to keep together. Shadow of the Demon Lord uses implements a measurable metric of sanity – an element of Call of Cthulhu that’s been called into question, but groups who wish to be mindful of this can change the wording and description within their own game as they see fit – as well as a level of corruption within their soul. Seeing horrible and indescribable things will loosen your character’s grasp on reality while doing terrible things will stain who they are as a person, which can have effects on people around them.
This is a game that’s a little edgy and dark, and a little over the top in some places, but still manages to stay enjoyable as a game. It’s spooky and difficult and there are consequences to actions, but this never stops it from being a really good time or well worth checking out for yourself.
If you’d like to play Shadow of the Demon Lord for yourself, you can find more information on the Schwalb Entertainment official website.
Have you played Shadow of the Demon Lord? What did you think of the dark fantasy setting and the two dice system? What kind of character did you play and how did they fare in this world? Let us know in the comments!