Next month, if the stars are right, Tales of the Demon Lord will creep forth from its dank cave and slither into inboxes everywhere. A full campaign and setting in a 48-page PDF, with an option to POD, Tales provides you with everything you need to take a group of characters from their common origins to the highest level in play and, with luck and sacrifice, those characters might just be able to avert the annihilation that threatens to devour the world. From encounters with hideous pig thieves, gigantic machine men with arm cannon, cultists, and demons loosed from the Void, the characters, if they would survive, must be hardy of body and firm of mind. Interested? Well, read on and I’ll tell you more about it.
First revealed in Shadow of the Demon Lord, Crossings is a dynamic city in the Northern Reach, one of civilization’s farthest-flung outposts on the frontier. Positioned at the center of the Tales campaign, most adventures described in the book take place in and around the city. So what does Crossing’s look like?
From the text:
At the center of the Northern Reach, Crossings spreads across a ring of hills overlooking the lake known as the Dark Waters. Six pale spires rise above the city, obscured by the perpetual smoke spewing from the stacks of its industrial district. Miles of farmland spread to the east, while the rolling hills known as the Barrows form a natural border to the south, curling around to the Black Hills where the city pries iron ore from dwarf-dug mines deep within the earth.
The present city is the latest in a long line of communities that have stood on the shores of the Dark Waters. Evidence of previous settlements can be seen in the city’s architecture, from looming faerie spires to the arches left by the First People, to the castles raised by the Edene when they ruled these lands. The city’s cobbled streets, ancient cemeteries, and statues of people and events long forgotten have all withstood the tide of years.
The Crossings of today grew from exiles, bandits, and refugees fleeing the Empire’s tyranny and squatting in the ruins of a town emptied by the plague. Though the new settlement was a lawless and dangerous place, the influx of settlers and the march of the crusaders to establish their citadels tempered the community’s excesses and helped its people establish a rule of law that has made the last century a stable one. Isolation and wealth have given Crossings a great deal of autonomy, and the city acknowledges the rule of the provincial capital of Sixton in name only.
An essential part of the Shadow play experience is that adventures are short and playable in a single 3 to 5 hour play session. With this in mind, adventures are short, easy to digest, and flexible enough to make your own. The scenarios included in Tales follow the pattern laid out in the standalone adventures already released and range in length from 2 to 4 pages each. I don’t want to spoil the adventures, so I’ll just give you the titles.
Harvester of Sorrows (Starting)
Born to Die (Novice)
Curious Case of the Errant Swine (Novice)
Temple of Shadows (Expert)
The Moon Spire (Expert)
Mines of Madness (Expert)
In the Name of Love (Expert)
Shadows in the Mist (Master)
Off the Rails (Master)
Prince of Darkness (Master)
Finally, Tales includes a selection of new and uncommon creatures. Most creatures encountered in the adventures come from the Shadow, but there were a few instances where the story demanded a few new and strange monsters, such a the cartul, a race of human-sized, sentient cockroaches that build elaborate colonies underground.
Cartul soldiers watch over the working drones and guard the entrances to a colony against predators. One in every twenty cartuls is a soldier. They resemble other cartuls but are larger and have stingers extending from their abdomens.
Looking for the Demon Lord?
If you don’t yet have Shadow of the Demon Lord or know people who haven’t yet succumbed to its darkness, you can grab PDFs of the rulebook and the first adventure at the following locations.