Shadow designer Rob Schwalb’s long experience on the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons design team (both Third and Fifth Editions), as well as his work on A Song of Ice and Fire, Dark Heresy, Numenera, Star Wars Saga Edition, and many other games, shows well in Shadow of the Demon Lord. The game removes time-consuming front-end obstacles to an intense experience. The Gamemaster decides your characters’ starting level; character creation is streamlined and fast (and you can add or change character paths organically during play); an elegant bonus system of Boons and Banes, and a combat round with “fast turns” and “slow turns,” both streamline play. But most important is the inbuilt front-loaded Demon Lord campaign structure.
As Rob explained in a March 2017 YouTube interview with The Brewery, “You know the best part of your fantasy campaign — the one where Orcus is clawing his way out of the Abyss to wreak havoc on the world? Or Asmodeus has finally hatched his nefarious plan, or Tiamat has just hatched all her baby dragons and the world is about to end, and it’s down to your heroes to stop that from happening? You know that really cool part you never get to see because you set it up for level 20, and it’s so far off on the horizon that your group breaks up after two and a half months, and you never ever get there? Demon Lord is the best part of the campaign, dragged kicking and screaming toward the front of the game. So you’re only playing in the coolest parts of your fantasy world. The ‘Demon Lord’ is this umbrella term for whatever awful thing is about to visit your particular setting. So it lets you experience all the horror and wonder that comes from big cosmic devourers, and rains of frogs, and organs coming from the sky, or the sun turning black and poisoning the land.”
The Demon Lord bundle’s original May 2017 run prompted glowing writeups like The Dread Gazebo’s “10 Great Reasons Why You Should Give Shadow of the Demon Lord a Try,” and extravagant praise on Reddit’s /r/rpg subreddit and the RPG.net forums. If you love Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the Ravenloft and Midnight settings, Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law novels, or heavy metal music, you’ll want to confront the Void That Hungers — or, as star designer Kenneth Hite describes it, “Pure Spikey Caustic Red-Hot Squirming Deliquescing Rugose Gonna-Bite-Your-Fingers-Off Horned Fetid Monstrous EVIL.”
DEMON LORD LEGACIES [all-new]This all-new Demon Lord Legacies companion to the original May 2017 Shadow of the Demon Lord Bundle (see below) added the recent major expansion Occult Philsophy plus path supplements, new foes, and an unspeakable horde of smaller Monstrous and Poisoned Pages. There were no less than wenty-six titles in this offer’s Starter Collection (retail value $52):
- Five Legacies of Shadow that reveal forgotten terrors back to wreak havoc in the land of Rûl: Black Sun Dawn, Curse of the Spider Wood, In the Emperor’s Secret Service, Men of Gog, and Scions of the Betrayer
- Four Paths of Shadow character supplements for warrior, priest, magician, and rogue: Bred for Battle, Called to Serve, In Pursuit of Power, and Natural Born Scoundrels
- Seventeen Poisoned Pages rules expansions that let you play gnomes, werewolves, centaurs, and fungus-people, and teach you new ways to get corrupted or go insane
SHADOW OF THE DEMON LORD
This Shadow of the Demon Lord Bundle, originally presented in May 2017 and previously revived in October 2018, had the core rulebook and essential early supplements.
[from May 2017]
There were ive titles in this revived offer’s Starter Collection (retail value $42), including the complete 278-page Shadow of the Demon Lord corebook, the Demon Lord’s Companion, the Uncertain Faith sourcebook of divine magic, and the fine introductory adventure Dark Deeds in Last Hope.
This offer’s Bonus Collection added seven more delicious gobbets of evil worth an additional $55. What’s in these sourcebooks? The titles speak for themselves: Hunger in the Void, Tombs of the Desolation, A Glorious Death, Terrible Beauty, and Exquisite Agony. Plus, Tales of the Demon Lord is a collection of 11 low-prep adventures across the Northern Reach, and the Demon Lord Screen gives you all the charts you need.
Ten percent of each payment (after gateway fees) for these two Shadow of the Demon Lord offers went to the charity chosen by Demon Lord designer Robert J. Schwalb, the Wildlife Conservation Society. WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.
Demon Lord resources
- Schwalb Entertainment’s Shadow of the Demon Lord page
- Shadow of the Demon Lord Cult, Facebook’s best place to get official rulings
- The thriving Shadow of the Demon Lord Discord channel
- Pregenerated SotDL characters (World Builder Blog)
- Reddit/r/rpg advice to new Shadow of the Demon Lord gamemasters
- “Shadow of the Demon Lord experiences and pitfalls?” (January 2017 RPG.net forum thread with lots of good starting advice)