I backed Shadow of the Demon Lord on Kickstarter a while back and was surprised last week when the PDF of the core book showed up in my email. I pulled the PDF down and started reading through it, and mentioned it to a friend of mine who has been running a D&D 5th Edition campaign. He wanted to know why I was interested in it, and I gave him a brief answer. Basically, Shadow of the Demon Lord was designed to be fast paced and allow for a campaign to unfold in just a handful of sessions. As I read through the book I got really excited about the system and just had to talk a bit more about it. Coincidentally, Marc Plourde had posted some initial thoughts about it and I swallowed my typical anxieties and weighed in. Eventually a campaign got organized.
Once I invited myself into the game, which is actually surprisingly out of character for me, I switched over from reading the setting and GM chapters and focused on all of the player options. The brief amount of time I had spent in the character creation and advancement chapters left me impressed with the simplicity and potential depth it presented.
On its surface, there are only four major choices to be made for your character. At character creation you select your Ancestry, also known as your race. This gives you several starting stats which you can tweak once, and a few special abilities and background details.
Once you hit first level, because starting characters are level 0, you choose your Novice Path. The Paths are basically classes and there are only four to pick from at first level; Magician, Priest, Rogue, and Warrior. The Path you select will change your character at a few predetermined levels, and it is very clearly laid out how those changes will be made. You generally get a stat boost, along with some new abilities. Sometimes you'll choose special abilities for magical traditions and spells, but that big choice sets you on a path.
You'll further refine your character at third level with an Expert Path, and again at seventh level with a Master Path. Four big choices, with a bunch of little choices along the way.
For the campaign, Year of the Demon Lord, we opted to roll on all of the character creation tables to get random backgrounds. I decided to go with a changeling and rolled up a changeling who had taken the identity of an older human woman who had a political career and was doing pretty well for herself. I took all of the details and quickly sketched out my character's back story and ended up with a fairly optimistic character living in this desolate setting.
On with the campaign
Everyone has their characters rolled up and submitted, and this is over a week before the first session. I guess it helps when most of the players are GMs themselves. I'll be posting here with follow ups to the sessions, so expect something around the 14th for the first session. Be sure to check out Marc Plourde's blog, he's the GM of the campaign and already has some stuff about it on Inspiration Strikes. In addition to Marc's site you can also get James Walls' take on the campaign and how his character Buckets is doing.