Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Crazy for the Demon Lord

Shadow of the Demon Lord uses insanity to describe the effects of encountering the awful. When a character sees something that doesn’t belong in the world, witnesses an atrocity firsthand, or is subjected to something of profound wrongness, insanity is often the result. Like damage, insanity is measured as a number. You accumulate insanity, rather than reduce some other resource. The maximum insanity a character can accumulate is its Willpower score.

Gaining Insanity
When the GM decides or when the rules direct that a character is at risk of gaining insanity, the character must usually make a Willpower resistance roll. On a failure, the character gains 1 or more insanity and becomes frightened for a number of minutes equal to the character’s insanity total. Gaining insanity from some creature has additional effects such as with the hag. A creature that gains insanity from a hag also becomes compelled for a number of rounds equal to the character’s insanity total.

One way characters can rid themselves of insanity is to spend insanity to buy a quirk. Once each day, a player may ask for a quirk. If the GM agrees, the player reduces his or her insanity total by a variable number and acquires a roleplaying trait appropriate to the source of the insanity. For example, a character who recently gained insanity after encountering a bloody bone might have a fear of raw meat. Quirks can be phobias, addictions, nightmares, and a variety of other disorders acquired from great mental strain.

A character cannot gain more insanity than his or her Willpower score. When the insanity total reaches the limit, the character goes mad. The effects of madness are random and example forms of madness are included in a big, saucy table. Once the character recovers from going mad, the character removes insanity from his or her total.

Here’s an excerpt.

1 or lower         Death. Your heart stops and you die as a result.
2                       Catatonia. You fall prone and become defenseless. At the end of each hour, roll a d6. A 4 or higher ends the madness.
3                       Self-Mutilation. You must take the next turn you can and use your action to tear your eyes from your sockets. Unless prevented, you become blinded until your ruined eyes can be repaired—such as with the restoration Life spell. The madness passes at the end of the next minute.
4–5                   Stricken. You become stunned. At the end of each minute, roll a d6. A 5 or higher ends the madness.
6–7                   Sickened. You become violently sick, vomiting and defecating as a result. While sickened, you are dazed. At the end of each round, roll a d6. A 5 or higher ends the madness.
8–9                   Hallucinations. You believe vermin infest your body. While affected, you must take a fast turn each round and use your action to cut or claw yourself unless you are prevented from doing so. Each time you take this action, you take 1 damage. At the end of each round, roll a d6. A 5 or higher ends the madness.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Player characters use skills to describe the areas in which they have formal training, the languages they can speak and read, and the environments in which they are accustomed. Skills add to characters’ description, offering details about identity, occupation, and nature. In this way, a skill is more like a descriptor or a tag. It is something that a character has or doesn’t have. A skill has a negligible mechanical weight and usually functions as a story-telling tool.

Generally, only player characters have skills. NPCs and creatures can have any skills the GM wants as appropriate to their role in the story and their description.

Language Skills
The most basic skills in the game are the language skills. All starting characters know how to speak in the Common Tongue. The game includes a list of typical languages and more languages are mentioned in the Bestiary. Having a language skill means your character can speak in that language and be understood. You either have the ability or you don’t. Note that the ability to speak in a given language does not automatically mean your character can read it. You can trade out one of your skills to become literate in all the languages you know or you might choose a professional skill that grants literacy in a language.

Professional Skills
Most skills are professional skills. A professional skill describes the area in which a character is trained and how that character might normally make ends meet. Examples include Arcanist, Armorer, Locksmith, or Theologian.

Having the Arcanist skill means your character knows stuff about magic. When your character sees an unfamiliar magical effect, you might automatically know the spell’s name or what the effect does. Or, you might have to make an Intellect action roll to gain this information as the GM decides. If you don’t have the Arcanist skill and you encounter an unfamiliar magic effect, the effect is unfamiliar to you.

Some professional skills let you manufacture finished items from raw materials. The Armorer skill, for example, lets you turn raw materials into armor provided you have a space to work, tools, and raw materials equal to 1/4 the armor’s price.

Professional skills also enable certain activities. Having the Locksmith skill means your character knows how to use lock picks to unlock locks. Without the skill, your character must resort to other methods to unlock locked doors, containers, windows, and so on—using a key (obviously), brute force, or magic.

Many professional skills grant literacy in a language the character knows how to speak.

Status Skills
Finally, some skills indicate a special status such as Aristocrat, Criminal, or Drunk. Of all the skills, these are the “softest.” A character with the skill knows how to conduct himself or herself around other characters that fit into the described status. Aristocrats know proper etiquette, can probably recognize heraldry, and know the people of wealth and status in their homeland. A criminal has connections to the black market and criminal underworld, knows the major organizations, and likely has a contact or two. A Drunk knows his or her way around taverns, can consume vast quantities of booze without becoming too impaired, and can probably gather a few rumors from the regular haunts.

Gaining Skills

All characters begin with two skills (chosen or determined randomly) plus any skills gained from their ancestry. Characters gain another skill when they choose a novice path, an expert path, and a master path. Some paths grant additional skills.