Shadow Lords: a roleplaying game about epic Heroes, Immortals, Titans, Angels and Demons…
The Eternity War
An ages-long battle hides behind the facade of everyday life: Demons and Angels fighting to control the world, ancient unnamed powers moving their immortal pawns and timeless Shadow Lords crafting age-long plans to shape the world according to their vision. The forces of Source and Abyss, Eternity and Corruption, change alliances according to the tides of time while the Avatars struggle to protect our reality. Behind alliances and betrayals, the Corruptors, residues of another universe and totally alien to our own, unleash their terrible powers and their servants to take the place of the Gods.
Shadow Lords roleplaying game
Shadow Lords rules are simple and clear and allow you to create any type of character in a multidimensional setting. From the psionic warrior to the Immortal Demigod Hercules, from the Bold Adventurer to the mighty Shadow Lord, from the Anunaki warrior to the Elohim (angel) envoy: the setting is so vast, but the core rulebook alone will give you enough options and ideas to make your own custom campaign setting, and to customize your characters the way you like, and give you a whole Worldbook: Anubia 1850 AD.
Anubia 1850 AD
In the core book you will find Anubia 1850 AD, a world were a powerful Church merged with the Roman Empire and developed means to protect it from outside influences and armies, making it so powerful to whistand for centuries. Magic, emerging technologies, behind the scenes scheming and immortals meddling make for a unique, eclectic and intriguing setting, with lots of possibilities for stories of various epicity.
The timeline of Anubia gives you hints about how it was in the past, and what major events took the world to his current state. But Shadow Lords settings are highly malleable, and while they try to give you a lot of ideas both for characters, secret societies, interesting plots and adventures, they give the players and the GM (the Keeper) plenty of freedom to forge the world in what they want.
History in Shadow Lords is a very mutable thing, and even people and already happened events can be changed and erased from the minds of the multitudes, warping reality itself.
Each worldbook for Shadow Lords will include a setting: a world (or several for the more sci-fi oriented settings) with a strong background theme and story. It will include a timeline until the point were the setting is presented, and suggestions for future events, adventures and campaigns.
It will include setting-specific archetypes and disciplines, to let you create special character and give you even more insight into the setting, from the point of view of your own character (but you can use those archetypes and those of the core book in ANY worldbook: Shadow Lords are used to mix realities for their own misterious plans, and dimension-hopping is not unheard of).
Some of the settings that are ready and needs only support from you, translation (from italian) and more art, are:
Click on any to have more information on that worldbook and setting. As we translate and develop the details of each of them, we will update the information until they are ready to play!
Basic character creation in Shadow Lords is fast and aimed at giving ideas for characters without enclosing them into “classes”.
You choose an Archetype, which just describes the mystical or non-mystical origins of the character, and gives him a bunch of die to assign to ANY career he wants (policeman? Soldier? Scientist? Mage? Nobleman?) and a choice of gifts and talents that the archetype give access to, PLUS another bunch given by a DISCIPLINE that you can choose together with the archetype.
Not all archetypes have access to all disciplines, for example if you want to play a Shadow Lord, you will have access to Shadow disciplines but not to psionic ones.
But this will just pose some limits to your character but not dictate what he could do.
If you choose the “Psi-gene carrier” archetype for example, you can easily shape a Telepath from it, but also a psychic investigator, or a young scientist who it’s not even aware of his gene and potential for telepathy. Hugely different characters shaped only by what careers, gifts and talents you will take.
The combination of archetypes and disciplines gives already HUNDRED of possibilities, but those are just paths of suggestions that let you mold your character. That means INFINITE character types can be made.
We also include three different options for players with different tastes or needs: a totally freeform way of creating the characters if you already know the setting and are an experienced player, a very simple but balanced point-buy system for those who really wants one, and a “fast start” option that let’s you build your character and CAMPAIGN along the way and just start playing!
Overview of the System
The Shadow Lords system is aimed at creating epic and fast-moving stories with powerful characters with deep characterization, while trying to give a bit of “crunch” for those who like a bit of tactics (but no miniatures-aimed, just aimed at the narration of the story and your powers uses).
The mechanics are based on only one type of roll, and a step-die pool in the spirits of both Savage Worlds and Cortex, but without adding dice or exploding them.
Instead we have the Yin/Yang dice and while you just use the highest rolling die (wich makes for fast results comparation and very little math), the system is honed to give a bell-curve of results and let competent character have competent results.
Each trait of the characters is rated with a polyhedral die (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12), and when you want to do something important or dangerous you roll a die from each of the categories that make your character and each die/trait contributes to the story you are telling: his FORCES, his LEGEND, his HERITAGES, his GIFTS and his CAREERS.
The Keeper (GM) always rolls first, and the characters can the decide to “give in” or roll. The roll itself, while simple, through the Yin/yang dice can produce different degrees of success and failure: success, failure, success at a cost, failure with some advantage taken, critical failure, critical success. That makes the interpretation of the rolls tell part of the story: did you manage to wound the Titan with your epic move? Yes, but maybe you got wounded in the exchange!
Yin/yang dice are “potentiality” dice: they can be dark and grim but power your special skills or they can be light and powerful and let you obtain higher successes. It all depends on how you want to use them and if you have the energy (KA) to make them bright!
Any dice that rolls a “1” is a yin/yang dice, and that makes every die you add to your pool count, even if little and coming from a minor trait. Bigger dice will dictate the outcome and make you powerful, smaller ones will contribute and sometime help your bigger dice get a greater result.
You can change the final result through the expenditure of DESTINY POINTS: a very limited resource you can use only on rolls that your character is really interested into (His destiny traits!) and wich refreshes through the story itself and your development of the character story, goals and connections with the setting!
That means that the rolls and your decisions will influence not only what is happening at the moment, but also the backstory of your character too.
That’s just the core, add to this the special Talents and powers that each character have and that make each of them unique and interesting.
Destiny is one of the cores of the system: it let’s your character influence the story even in “background” scenes, or when you are “resting” from main adventures. It makes it grow or change the world around him, develop the npcs he is bound to, and develop his goals and stories.
It’s a way to give both the player and the keeper insights on what each of them wants from the story and the character. Some destiny traits are created by the player, others by the Keeper to bound it to the story.
That makes for a truly shared story and setting between players and keeper, dividing the responsabilities but without forcing players to take the keeper role and without taking out too much of the keeper powers. That’s because some groups will have players who like to partecipate a lot in the story and setting creations, others who just wanna concentrate on their characters, and others yet who just need the right tools to get involved in the whole game.
OVERAL STORY AND SETTING “META-PLOT”.
While Shadow Lords have a story developed over several years, and lot of worlds, it’s also a very fluid setting.
Our aim is at giving the keepers and players the tools to adapt their own story or even another setting into the world of Shadow Lords. We want to give ideas, adventures and even epic stories and events that can influence the world… but nothing is set in stone, the reality can be warped, changed and each group can make his own variations and even contribute to the whole setting!
In fact, we plan to create a place were groups or individuals can share their own ideas for the setting, and were people can vote to make them integral part of it, or just leave them as a “local anomaly”: that means that whoever wants to use them can, but who don’t wants can just ignore them!
More will be developed as we start to churn out the worldbooks and set up the forums.
The text of this article/page (introduction to Shadow Lords) is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). This means you can use it for your articles about the game, thanks!