Book 0 - Prologue
The prologue book is free on Drivethru RPH Here! This was financed as part of the successful kickstarter for Book 2 (Travels) which I backed and will review at a later stage. The Prologue book is 78 pages, which give an overview of the system, sample characters and three starting adventures. The setting and the feel of the RPG is discussed long side the main concepts of the game, as well as with a general presentation of the universe.
Throughout every book and every addition to the series, the artwork is nothing short of phenomenal. I have never seen a RPG series where the artwork is of such high quality throughout. It is a delight to turn the pages and to see the treats in store!
Name: Shadows of Esteren - Prologue
Publisher: Agate RPG
Author: ForgeSonges Collective
Category: Fantasy Horror
Cost: Free PDF – order here - Print £19.99
Chapter 1 - Origins
The first part of the book is called “Origins”. This takes the reader through the main concepts and ideas behind the game. The paragraph on page 9 (The Horror of a Revelation) helps to foster the understanding that “the literary definition of horror must be kept in mind: a feeling of dread mixed with admiration in front of a vertiginous reality.” The next few pages give an overview of the geography, history and society of the peninsula of Tri-Kazel and the kingdom of Taol-Kaer, where the adventures take place. It explains the culture and the impact of changes that are taking place within society, with the emergence of Magience – a mixture of magic and science that produce many benefits but produces a deadly pollution.
Page 14 is the start of the crunch. There is a summary of Shadows of Esteren’s game system, which includes everything required to play the scenarios found in the chapter “Omens”. Although some very important aspects, such as sanity, are only briefly mentioned, they will still have an implicit importance in each scenario.
In Shadows of Esteren, the PCs do not have characteristics that assess the level of their physical or mental skills (Strength, Intelligence, etc). These attributes are determined by Advantages and Disadvantages assigned during the creation of the Character. However, each PC has five Ways, which are characteristics that determine the major traits of the Character’s personality. Skills are divided into Domains and then into disciplines and ranked accordingly. Resolution for an action is done via 1D1) and adds the result to the rating of the Domain (or the Discipline) appropriate to the action. To succeed, the Player must reach a number above or equal to a Difficulty Threshold.
A fight is divided into Rounds. In the prologue a simplified system is given, to get the players used to the system.
1. Determining the order of action
2. Resolving the action
3. Calculating Damage
Page 18 gives a quick overview and example as to how this is handled. It is again a simple d10 system that is fast and easy to understand.
As Horror plays such a key part, sanity is also a key in the game system. This is similar to Call of Cthulhu and there is definitely a Lovecraftian feel to the game itself.
From page 20, there are six Illustrated and ready-to-play characters: Yldiane the Varigal, Arven the fighter, Ean the fugitive, Liam the scholar, Mòr the Ionnthén, and Urvan the Blade Knight.
These have full background and personalities that show how characters should be developed for the game.
Chapter 2 - Omens
This part of the prologue offers three scenarios, which are very different, and yet linked by a single red thread:
Loch Varn: Dive into the confines of nightmare in an elaborate scenario with original narrative concepts and discover the secrets of Loch Varn’s vale.
Poison: An ideal scenario to discover Esteren and take your first steps in role-playing. The village of Melwan is threatened by a poisoning. Will you be able to discover its source and how to stop it?
Red Fall: A dead man and a missing woman. Lead an investigation in Dearg and experience an initial overview of the vale in which the first episode of the official campaign will be set.
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