This morning, when I thought about writing about Shadow of the Demon Lord, I was totally amazed that I haven’t actually mentioned it on the blog at all. Robert Schwalb’s Shadow of the Demon Lord is an amazing dark fantasy game which rested for too long on my shelf basically unread. I bought the hardcover book back in December 2016 but I now finally had the time to give it a closer look.
Shadow of the Demon Lord was influenced by a lot of games and settings I love. The rules remind me of a streamlined version of D&D combined with Novice, Expert and Master paths reminiscent of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay’s careers. The setting, the world of Rûl, takes inspiration from the classic Warhammer World, but also from the fantasy-noir world of Eberron and the steam-fantasy setting of the Iron Kingdoms. This melange of different influences could easily end up in a weird Kitchen Sink setting, but Robert Schwalb managed to make everything fit together neatly.
When I first picked up SotDL I thought it might be an interesting alternative to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay with a more modern and D&D-like ruleset. But it is so much more. Over the last few days I realized that SotDL is a flexible rule set which could be used for more than one setting easily. There is support for Green Ronin’s Freeport setting with the SotDL Freeport Companion. Schwalb Enterprises also released a sourcebook for Mad Max style gaming called “Godless”. People have also used SotDL for games set in Eberron, the Forgotten Realms, and even the Warhammer 40,000 universe. What makes SotDL so easily adaptable to other settings?
Continue reading A Look At Shadow of the Demon Lord
As I stated in my recent review of the FrontierSpace PHB, FrontierSpace is one of the most exciting releases this year. Even though I have played and even written fantasy roleplaying games before, I am first and foremost a science fiction fan. Unfortunately a lot of SF RPGs out there have been written by designers who love rules. It feels as if crunch and science fiction often come in pairs. Luckily FrontierSpace is an exception. The rules are between rules-light and rules-medium, but there’s definitely enough depth for long campaigns. The referee handbook adds optional rules and various generators to expand your FrontierSpace game and help the GM (or Referee as it’s called in the game) to do their job.
This review is based on a unfinished copy of the RHB provided by DwD Studios. Thanks again, Bill. The 198-paged preview copy lacks a couple of pieces of art but aside from that it should be identical to the finished version. The RHB shares its look and layout with the PHB. The release is probably only a week or two away and like the PHB the RHB should be available both as POD version (soft- or hardcover) and PDF via RPGNow/DriveThruRPG. I guess it will probably set you back $10 just like the PHB, which is a very good price, if you ask me.
So what does the RHB add to the table? The first chapter of the book called Game Guidelines mostly expands on the rules on the PHB. In the first section of said chapter there’s a closer look at Character Rules including the morality system, how it applies to robots, and how the Referee can react when players let their character’s act against their defined moral code. Personally I don’t think codifying one’s morality is really necessary (especially in a SF game), but that’s just me.
More interesting are the information on earning DP (development points, FrontierSpace’s XP equivalent). In this section the author gives detailed tips on how to grant DP after each session. There’s a bullet list with ten item which if applicable grant you 1 DP each. This makes granting DP a much easier task, since you just have to check which criteria apply. Veteran Referees may just wing it, but if you’re new to the game it definitely comes in handy.
Another form of reward is also detailed: Loyalty benefits. These are special benefits granted to characters who have been loyal to a certain patron may it be a powerful corporation or a local government. Loyalty benefits are usually designed by the Referee but a list of examples is given which contains benefits like special skill training, the use of certain vehicles provided by the patron, or even company stocks.
Fria Ligan (or Free League Publishing) has quickly become one of my favorite game publishers/design teams. But even though I totally love what they are doing I actually don’t know that much about them, their current and future projects. So I thought it would be cool to do an interview with them. Luckily Tomas Härenstam agreed and without further ado, let’s delve right in.
Stargazer: Thanks again for taking your time to answer some questions. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you and what is your position within Fria Ligan (aka Free League)? Can you tell us about how you got introduced to roleplaying games in general and how you came to be working in the RPG industry yourself?
Tomas: Hi and thank you for having me! I’m one of the four founders of Free League Publishing, and these days I tend to manage most of our projects. I’ve been a roleplayer since the mid-80’s, and been writing my own RPGs for almost as long. In the mid-2000s, I self-published an alternate ruleset for the then existing edition of Mutant, and that led to the publisher Järnringen asking me to write the rules for their upcoming title. Later during that project, Järnringen went out of business and they asked me if me if I would like to take it over. That led to me and another couple of hobby writers founding Free League Publishing as a company. The rest is, as they say, history. 🙂 Continue reading Fria Ligan Interview with Tomas Härenstam