Monday, March 6, 2023

Kickstarter - Shadowdark RPG: Old-School Gaming, Modernized

There's a bit of a debate going on online about Shadowdark. Is it 5e-based? Is it OSR? Something a bit of both? Does it even matter?

From what I've read of Shadowdark (you can snag the free Shadowdark Quickstart here) it has an old-school feel with some 5e-isms, such as advantage/disadvantage and the healing of ALL damage after 8 hours of successful rest (definitely NOT old-school healing). Combat is deadly, power increases much slower than 5e, and magic is NOT Vancian in nature. 

Shadowdark IS a very resource dependant system, and light (torches) are a huge part of that. Realtime=gametime when it comes to torchlight, and as none of the PC races/species/heredities have dark or infra-vision, it makes pacing a very integral part of the game.

No feats or skills, and abilities gained at each level are mostly random. I am not sure I'd run Shadowdark as written, but it has many intriguing twists that I do like. Heck, I'm not sure if I'd house-rule Shadowdark into something I'd prefer, or take another OSR system like Swords &Wizardry and add aspects of Shadowdark to it. Decisions, decisions ;)

I AM backing the Shadowdark Kickstarter at $159, for all the loot. If nothing else, I feel confident I'll give it an honest shake before trying to morph it into something similar and yet not. Again, the Shadowdark Quickstart is free, and you can grab the Shadowdark hardback via Kickstarter for $59 (PDF for $25).

Shadowdark RPG has familiar elements of classic fantasy gaming, but it isn't a retro-clone. A lot of new game design ideas have emerged in the last 50 years, and we wanted to bring our favorite concepts together into a nostalgic-but-new adventuring system.

In this game, torches only last one hour of real time. The characters (and players) must make decisions quickly, or they'll run out of precious light! 

A few other features include: 

  • The four core classes: fighter, priest, thief, wizard
  • A d20-based, roll-high system
  • No darkvision — total darkness is dangerous 
  • Treasure grants XP, and tracking it is dead simple
  • Roll-to-cast spells — magic is exciting and risky
  • Simple distances (close, near, far)
  • Monster morale and reaction rolls
  • Always-on initiative — time is easy to track
  • The six classic stats (3d6 in order) 
  • No skills — just ability checks and advantage/disadvantage
  • Separate ancestry and class
  • Randomized character class abilities — emergent character growth!
  • Low hit points — fast and deadly combat
  • Simple encumbrance (gear slots)

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