Shadow of the Demon Lord
Shadow of the Demon Lord
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Quickly rate Shadow of the Demon Lord

Schwalb Entertainment

Game system(s): Shadow of the Demon Lord,
Genre: Horror, Fantasy,

Thu 27 August 2015
Robert J. Schwalb,
Hardcover (272 pages)
$49.95 | Buy this product

SKU: SDL1000e

UPC: 978-1-4951-6886-4

Fun with stats: Shadow of the Demon Lord is ranked #15 out of 60 products with 10 or more reviews, placing it in the 77% percentile. It is rated 14.7 points higher than the overall average product rating of 76.8%. With 18 reviews, this is the #32 most reviewed product.


Rated by 18 readers at 91.5% who deem this a CRITICAL HIT. This should be part of your collection.
Read all 18 reviews | Write Your Own
There are 3 external reviews of this product with a combined rating of 92%. Read these reviews.

The End Is Just the Beginning

Sometimes the world needs heroes. But in the desperation of these last days, the world will take all those it can get: heroes, blackguards, madmen, and whoever else is willing to stand against the coming darkness. Will you fight the demons or will you burn it all down and dance among the ashes? Who will you become when the world dies?

Shadow of the Demon Lord opens a door to an imaginary world held in the grip of a cosmic destroyer. Enter a land steeped in the chaos and madness unleashed by the end times, with whole realms overrun by howling herds of beastmen, warped spirits freed from the Underworld, and unspeakable horrors stirred awaken by the Demon Lords imminent arrival.

A complete tabletop roleplaying game in one book, Shadow of the Demon Lord provides everything you need to create and play characters, form groups in pursuit of adventure, and tell exciting stories with your friends. As well, the book gives Game Masters all the tools they need to create adventures, over one hundred foul creatures, a detailed region of the campaign world, and extensive advice to help run the game.

As the Demon Lords shadow creeps across the world, it creates the chance for heroes to seize their destinies and villains to accomplish their despicable goals. As you play the game, you and your friends tell stories about thwarting the plots of twisted cultists, hunting down and destroying bizarre demons, exploring lost lands, investigating weird mysteries, and so much more.
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  1. #2

    4 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    NOTE: This is a quick read-through review and not an in-depth review from playing the game.

    STYLE: The Art, style and setting are all fantastic. There are plenty of monsters and plot hooks to get you started.

    GAME: As is the product itself, its similar to d20 in terms of dice mechanic. I appreciate that all damage uses d6s, (rather then have to search for d8, d10, d12 etc). I really enjoy the flexibility the Boons and Banes add to the game, and prefer it over the Advantage / Disadvantage rule from D&D 5E (although that is my personal preference).

    My only disappointment is in the simplification of Skills and Attributes. Only 4 Attributes and all skills bundled into a single Profession might be appealing to some but to a gamer that enjoys character depth through the use of Skills/Attributes will be left soured. I think this was a daring move by the designer, at the very least he could have included a page offering guidance and sample of incorporating skills but instead makes a huge assumption that the game can and should be played without them. Again a bold move, but not my thing.

    PRICE: I should mention that the pdf comes to near $30 CAD (after taxes and exchange rate) for us Canadians which personally I feel is pricey for something I don't get in print. And I don't see a print/pdf bundle.
    Last edited by Wulfang; Friday, 28th August, 2015 at 06:08 PM.

  2. #3

    5 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    After creating a few characters. I have to say that I really like the system, and the ease of telling stories that aren't bogged down with tons of crunch. This is very close to the D&D 5th edition design (as it should be since it is ROBERT SCHWALB's GAME!) with a great dark fantasy steampunk campaign setting, and great mechanics.

    more here:
    Last edited by Michael Long; Monday, 31st August, 2015 at 02:46 AM.
    XP Chimpy, Fabio Andrea Rossi, Chris Stenger gave XP for this post

  3. #4

    2 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    My immediate thoughts while flipping through the book was that it wasn't what I thought it would be... The cover of the book and the art that was previewed in the kickstarter was so evocative of this world they were creating, but I feel like the book itself just doesn't sell that world very well. The art is great but it feels kinda disjointed and set against a pretty bland/cold layout that just isn't selling the tone of the setting, it feels like it could be the rule book for cyberpunk game not a bloody horror fantasy. There is a pretty good sized bestiary in the back of the book but I was surprised at how much of it was generic D&D/Fantasy fare, I was expecting more unique/new creatures and monsters than there ended up being. To my surprise the rules stand out as the thing I am most interested in trying out, I want to see how these simplified dice rolls, and tiered character progression work in practice, on paper they seem quite appealing. My final score for this game is probably going to be lower than others but that's because it really doesn't fill the niche I was expecting it to. I was hoping for a game that focused on creating a new setting and fully fleshed out lore, a completely unique world like Exalted, Dark Heresy, Blue Rose or Southlands, the final product however just hews too close to generic D&D/Pathfinder in terms of its setting, it doesn't feel like it really shows how it is better or different. Despite being a little interested in seeing how the mechanics of the game work, they just aren't a selling point for me, there are already a million generic fantasy systems out there. I was really hoping this would be a book about new lore and a cohesive setting but I don't feel like it measures up to what I had hoped for.

  4. #5

    5 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    Shadow of the Demon lord advertises itself a gritty and dark fantasy rpg. However it is much more than that. It is a evocative, lean, versatile, balanced and fast paced d20 rpg. It also manages to one hand give a plethora of options and tricks to the players (for example, every character can feint, disarm, trip, power attack, unbalance etc without needing a class option to be good at it) and on the other hand not to make characters super heroes at higher levels.

    My group of players of 7th level in D&D 5th edition managed to kill 9 ogres in a single encounter, without losing much of their hit points. Mostly using AoE spells and due to the fact that players can get a very high AC for monsters to connect a blow plus easily inflict disadvantages on attacks. A similar encounter on Shadow of the Demon Lord at that level (PCs around 4 level since SotDL has only 10 levels) would have a big chance of the Ogres killing and eating one of the characters and then vomiting his undigested pieces on his companions (yes, the Ogre from the SotDL Bestiary actually has a Vomit ability).

    So give this game a try if you want visceral combat, a greater flexibility in making characters* and lesser preparation time as a DM**.

    *There are no weapon and armor proficiences. Want a caster wearing chain mail? Give your character high enough strength and he can wear it.

    ** Adversaries are especially easy to prepare and adjust. Especially casters since magic is more restricted in flavorful "traditions". Want to have a powerful necromancer villain? In D&D/Pathfinder etc you have to leaf through an extermelly long spell list. Pick spells that are often not fitting with the necromancer concept just because they are good (Shield, Fireball, etc). In SotDL the necromancer would pick spells from the Necromancy and Forbidden Tradition (each caster must pick around 2-3 traditions that he has access to). Each tradition has only 10 spells spread across all spell levels. Voila. Your necromancer villain is dripping with dark magic flavor, such as a necromancy spell that makes a characters bones explode and form a skeleton.
    Last edited by Lannister301; Sunday, 30th August, 2015 at 11:32 AM.
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  5. #6
    Waghalter (Lvl 7)

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    5 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    Shadow of the Demon Lord has two basic selling points. One is the flavor/setting, an early-steampunk horror-fantasy vibe that recalls designer Schwalb's work on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay but also hearkens back to older Appendix N fantasy and fairy tales for inspiration (for example, the changeling player race are bundles of sticks left behind by fey who steal children, a la Irish folklore). The other big appeal is the ruleset, which is a streamlined, modern version of d20 gaming that began with Basic D&D in 1977. "Modern" here doesn't mean this is a storytelling game, or one with narrative control rules for the players. It's an adventure game through and through, and quite a dangerous one at low levels! But Schwalb's extensive experience with every ruleset ever means that his own is full of small innovations that make the game easier to learn, faster to play, and less likely to get bogged down in rulebook hunting than comparable games. Highly recommended.

    A note on character options: there are a lot of them. You choose paths (like class fragments) at levels 0, 1, 3, and 7. There are no restrictions on what you can choose, so there are possible 24,576 combinations. (And that doesn't include the 30 traditions of magic that spellcasters can choose from.)

    A note on flexibility: the rules aren't hardcoded with horror. That's the default setting, but you could easily play more heroic fantasy with the ruleset, in any world or setting that jives with modestly-powered characters.
    Last edited by KesselZero; Sunday, 30th August, 2015 at 01:47 PM. Reason: Addded info about character options & flexibility
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  6. #7

    5 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    SotDL is everything it says in the tin and more. It takes some of the best RPG concepts out there and polishes them even further. It may not be truly innovative, but the combination of ideas produces an excellent overall result that fans of games like WFRP and D&D will find a lot to like about. The most impressive thing about the game, other than the design, is the sheer amount of content in a 272 page rulebook. I feel I get as much as D&D packs in 3 books the same size. When you factor this in to this being the product of one writer, it's an amazing feat. As icing in the cake, the book is gorgeous, macabre, yet fun in presentation and art consistently throughout.
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  7. #8

    5 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    SotDL is Robert Schwalb's attempt to do what Monte Cook did with Numenera: Make his own setting and rules (and company). Like Monte, Robert did a very good job, and like Numenera, SotDL is a more of a framework setting than a detailed campaign setting. (This means that the GM is expected to apply a considerable amount of details on his own.)

    The book includes both rules and a setting of fantasy horror. Everything is well-written and illustrations are beautiful and plentiful. (I do miss a picture of every monster, though.)

    The rules are a mix of D&D and WFRPG, but simpler than either. It uses a d20 to resolve outcomes, and a d6 for damage. It uses paths rather than classes which allows your character to "multi-class" naturally as he/she progresses. However, it doesn't give you the flexibility in character creation that you see in many other systems. For example, your character can't start out being ambidextrous; rather, you'll have to choose the "Dervish" master path available at level 7. This makes you feel a bit constrained in character design, at least initially. All in all, though, the rules are simple and solid. And the magic system (based on spell lists called traditions) is among the best I have ever seen: again, a mix of D&D and WFRPG.

    The setting is what really drove me to invest in SofDL, though. Horror fantasy is just my thing, and SotDL delivers. Unfortunately, out of the book's 274 pages, only 25 pages are about the setting, of which only 8 are about the Northern Reach (the part of the world in which game groups will probably start out). Not much. The Bestiary is a massive 46 pages, though. And you do get more lore elsewhere in the book as well, e.g. in the Ancestry section (about races) or in sections on paths and traditions. Overall, I would have liked to have gotten more lore stuff, but given that this is a "framework" setting, its enough to get you started. And what you are given is excellent and gives you a host of ideas of adventure.

    I look much forward to see future products providing more details on the setting.
    Last edited by ilsundal; Thursday, 3rd September, 2015 at 12:52 PM.
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  8. #9

    5 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    If you like Warhammer Fantasy I think you'll love this game, if you like dark-gritty D&D, you'll like this game. The paths system for character advancement is intuitive and fun. The d20 +boons/banes mechanic for task resolution is elegant. The constant reminder of the setting in every aspect of the game is immersive. Playing in a world that is on the brink of an apocalypse makes for a great, dark fantasy story.

  9. #10
    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

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    5 out of 5 rating for Shadow of the Demon Lord

    13th Age, DnD 4e, Clive Barker, and Warhammer in a blender! 92%
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