One of my favorite releases has been Shadow of the Demon Lord from Schwalb Entertainment. It is a dark fantasy roleplaying game and has been referred to as the “spiritual successor” to the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game. The setting is the world on the brink of destruction as the Demon Lord, a being of unfathomable power and corruption, is forcing it’s way into the world. That aspect of the game setting reminds me of Shaitan in The Wheel of Time series.
The game itself is meant to be picked up quickly. The system is simple to grasp. The character choices are interesting. It also has one of the best representations of elves and fairies that I’ve seen in a fantasy RPG in a long time.
It is the work of Robert Schwalb who has written for Dungeons & Dragons and was the creator of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game from Green Ronin. The latter is the RPG based on the books by George R. R. Martin.
The Shadow of the Demon Lord came out after a hugely successful Kickstarter which not only funded the creation and printing of the book but resulted in the creation of a huge amount of adventures and supplementary material. And when I say huge, I mean huge. There has been a release of some sort almost every week since the core book came out. The number of adventures alone could have you playing once a week for close to a year. There are supplements that expand the character options and the setting itself. And all of them are reasonably priced. Recently, Mr. Schwalb released the last supplement funded by the Kickstarter, Godless. This doesn’t even take I to account of the mini supplements and adventures that weren’t part of the crowdfunding effort.
There is a lot I like about this game. As I mentioned above, the character creation is quick and you can be up and running in a few minutes. Mr. Schwalb has geared the game for short campaigns, usually of 11 adventures with the thought of leveling up at the end of each adventure. Currently there are only 11 levels counting your zero level of just being your ancestry (race). At 1st level you pick a novice path which are classics like rogue, priest, magician and fighter. At other intervals, there are expert and master classes that you get to choose and there is no restriction on your choice.
The world in the core is painted in broad strokes with it seeming like a fairly standard fantasy world but one that is on the brink of destruction. The effects of the Demon Lord are a main focus of the setting. This is an entity that isn’t fought but held at bay with the feeling that it is only a matter of time before everything ends.
The comparison to Warhammer is pretty easy to see as characters do start out…well at zero and work their way up to hero. Also the darkness of the setting is definitely related to The Old World.
Overall, this is definitely the game I want to run when I come back around to fantasy again.
What Makes It My Favorite?
Since I have such a limited amount of time to game, I like that it is meant to be picked up quickly and the adventures are meant to be played in a couple of hours. The current suggested length of a campaign is 11 adventures as each adventure is supposed to result in going up a level and the published adventures are scaled for starter, novice, expert, and master (the general ranges of the levels). So even a campaign can be played out in a relatively short amount of time.