The vale was meant to be their safe retreat, but they didn’t count on the woods. Five years ago, pilgrims established the tiny village of Respite in the idyllic Orborous Vale on the western edge of the Dark Forest, a stretch of evil wood found in the Northern Reach. At first, the land was good to them and fruitful, yielding rich harvests and allowing their livestock to flourish. The sun rose every morn with great beauty and life-giving warmth, and all was good and peaceful for the fifty or so souls that called Respite home—so long as they did not venture into the shadowed wood just beyond their border.
As the years passed, however, all that began to change, though the village elders could no longer point to a single event to mark the shift. The soil thinned and ceased to yield the abundance it once had. Now, the village’s crops molder on the vine, their root vegetables emerge from the ground spindly and bleeding, and their blighted herb plants taste like ash and vomit. Flowers wither to brown and black within moments of being cut. Goats give bloody milk floating with pus, and their weak cows sometimes bear calves with too many limbs or a second head. Now, the village treads perilously close to starvation, and tempers are rising. Some believe the New God has abandoned them, while others blame the misfortunes on a nearer threat.
Mayor Rickard Bailey and the elders of the Dawn Seekers have long forbidden anyone to venture into the wood. Only the strongest members of the village venture beneath the looming branches among the scintillating shadows, armed with what weapons they can muster to trap and hunt game in the uncertain darkness. Rumors and village tales abound about strange creatures that dwell in the wood, and the children of Respite are warned to mind themselves, or else a terrible witch will come for them.
The villagers are more right than they know.
The Witching Wood is an adventure for starting characters. In it, the characters must come together to find the source of the troubles besetting Respite and drive it away. If they succeed, the crucible of shared experience combines them into a group and sets the stage for even greater adventures.
Creating the universe drove the genies mad. From the vaulted heights as makers of all things they fell, becoming less than their creations, slaves to those with the knowledge and power to compel them. Their collapse left their children to fend for themselves. The salamanders retreated to the volcanic Firepeaks, the undines fled to the depths of the Auroral Ocean, and the sylphs took to their palaces in the sky. The gnomes buried themselves under the mountains and remained in the caves and grottos for thousands of years.
The spread of the Demon Lord’s shadow has triggered calamities and catastrophes that have upset the natural order of things, such that havens have become tombs, cities are awash with blood, and monsters run loose in the countryside. No longer can people huddle in the dark; the time for hiding has come to an end, for the Demon Lord will devour all as it destroys the world. So, as the salamanders have begun to descend from their fiery peaks, so have the gnomes been dislodged from their cavernous homes to emerge blinking into the world they abandoned long ago.
This entry in the Poisoned Pages series, Children of the Restless Earth, reveals second of the elemental ancestries–gnomes– for play in Shadow of the Demon Lord.
Evil is at its most insidious when it hides behind a veil of familiarity and innocence. There, wickedness is the most difficult to recognize and, more importantly, fight. We cannot bring ourselves to identify rot and decay in something we already know and love. Even when we do, we fear that the thing we love might not survive the necessary act of purification. So we must decide the result we want more—to destroy evil or to preserve what we love, because sometimes you cannot have both.
The Demon’s Wet Nurse is an adventure for a group of novice characters who find themselves caught in a net of a cult’s plot to wreak havoc and, in so doing, loose a hideous demon into the world. During the adventure, the characters explore the community and deal with the locals to gather the clues they need to fi nd the source of the threat. The characters complete the adventure when they confront the unhinged cult leader and put a stop to her foul plan before it’s too late.
From pulpits and street corners, doomsday preachers shriek about the horrors awaiting those who walk in darkness. The druids, roaming the lands under their protection, whisper prayers to the Fair Folk to keep the dark ones at bay. Even the witches use symbols to ward against the attention of the malevolent spirits, those fallen faeries known as devils.
Every religion, large and small, claims there exists a place of punishment, a great repository where the souls of the damned face suffering beyond description at the hands of fiendish tormentors. This place has many names, such as the Darkness Below, the Nether World, the City of Graves, or Torment, but most know this place as Hell.
Hell would not exist without mortals. It is a place of purification, where souls stained by evil can find release from their burdens through the cruel ministrations of the warped faeries living there. The process of purification does not come easily but involves extraordinary pain; thus, the devils have amassed a wide range of torture techniques for this purpose.
Hell is also the staging ground for the devils’ efforts to corrupt souls in the mortal world. In this place sustained by great magic, devils can draw power to tempt mortals, to bestow on them wondrous gifts in exchange for ownership over their souls. Devils find mortals’ rapid descent into darkness hilarious—even more so when it hurts other people. However, as much as they enjoy ruining mortals’ lives, devils depend on them for survival. Should mortals ever pass from the world, so too would the devils. For this reason, devils have a keen interest in the present troubles blighting Urth. The Demon Lord’s shadow reaches even into the bowels of Hell, and its denizens stand ready to contribute to the struggle to save the world.
Exquisite Agony lays bare the secrets of Hell and its inhabitants, offering GMs new inspiration for creating adventures and campaigns that explore themes of corruption and redemption, take groups into the depths of darkness, or test the player characters’ ability to resist the power Hell offers. As with other sourcebooks, you’ll find a mix of story and mechanics to support these goals. Players can also find more options at the end of this supplement, including a new ancestry, a selection of new paths, and new spells.
Since the material in this book injects a heavy dose of evil into the game, it might not be appropriate for all groups. Be sure to consider carefully before you introduce these options into your game.
The devils watch the mortal world from their infernal realm, always scheming to sink their claws into mortal souls, to turn people from the path of light and virtue to one of darkness and corruption. They tempt, deceive, offer unrivaled treasures and delights, and whisper terrible truths no mortal is meant to know, all to foster the evil they require to gain ownership over the souls, dragging them down into Hell’s depths where the souls face an exquisite agony only the devils can create.
Darkness has come to Cheqwood, a mere speck of a town on the edges of an enchanted wood, a place steeped in the old magic of the fey folk that now stands on the precipice of annihilation thanks to the attentions of the devils and their cruel machinations. With beastmen stalking the countryside, ghosts loosed from the Underworld to haunt the lands of the living, children mysteriously vanishing, and a curious stranger named the Bonesmith, the rising tensions might very well cause the hard-won peace of this frontier community to unravel into violence and death.
Blood Will Run is an adventure for novice characters. In it, the group becomes embroiled in a mystery involving the disappearance of twin boys and the theft of a valuable blade. The deeper the characters investigate, the more horror they uncover until they can drag the true villain into the light.
We all wear masks. We wear them to conceal our true selves, to become what others expect us to be, navigating the murky waters of social interaction to forge relationships, find love, and avoid enemies.
For most of us, masks conceal uncertainties and doubts, ambitions and desires, and all the little secrets that make up what we think of as our true selves. For a few, masks conceal darkness, a dangerous beast just barely restrained by the chains of self-control. Sometimes, the chains break, the mask slips, and the horror begins.
Skinchangers in Shadow of the Demon Lord encompass a variety of shapeshifting creatures,from werewolves to ratmen and everything in between. The animal form a skinchanger adopts can be anything you need it to be without having to alter anything other than how it’s described.
For Game Masters, this approach provides a great deal of freedom, but from the perspective of players, especially those who contract the Skinchanger Curse, a bit more information can be helpful. This entry into the Poisoned Pages series takes a closer look at skinchangers, revealing their secret origins, how they spread their curse, and everything else you need to know to play a skinchanger character. Unleash the beast inside you and bark at the moon!
If you play a user of magic in Shadow of the Demon Lord or run the game using creatures with several spells on hand, it can sometimes be tricky keeping all the spell effects straight, especially when you need to bounce between two or three traditions. Now, I am proud to present spell cards for Shadow of the Demon Lord! Each card tells you what happens and what you need to do to cast the spell or, for the rare long spell, where to find additional information.
As the Shadow of the Demon Lord role playing game rulebook contains over 300 spells by itself, we’re selling the cards in tradition packs, both as PDF (for .50) and as physical cards (for 1.99 to 2.49, which also includes the PDF). The traditions from Demon Lord’s Companion follow the same model, while all the spell presented in Tombs of the Desolation are available as a single pack. Best of all, if you want all the cards in the set, we’re offering bundle deals. You can all the printed cards from the core set for $51.70 (a savings of $9.29) and all the printed cards from the Demon Lord’s Companion for $12.23 (a savings of $2.20). In other words, if you get the core printed bundle, you’re getting four decks free, and one deck free if you get the Demon Lord’s Companion Spell Cards bundle.
These spell cards are available only at drivethrurpg.com and you can grab the card sets by clicking through the following links:
As I release new supplements, we’ll add decks to the spell cards.
Final Note: If you’re looking for hardcopies of Shadow of the Demon Lord supplements, they are also available for sale at DriveThruRPG.
Small towns and settlements dot the coasts and wilds of the Empire, and the people living in them have learned to eke out a meager existence in what is often a harsh and unforgiving environment. Some people turn to local traditions and faiths to keep them safe, others invent them to suit their needs. One such place is the town of Argron’s Dock, where the locals have taken to worshipping a small god they call The Father. Today is a holy day, a time of great celebration, when the people can give thanks to the Father’s bounty and receive his gifts as they have since they first embraced him as their lord and savior.
Feast of the Father is an adventure for expert characters who happen upon Argron’s Dock during their travels. By interacting with the locals, the group learns festivities are to take place, and the townsfolk invite them to participate. Exploring the town and interacting with the unhinged people living there should provide ample warning of the danger lying in wait. The characters complete the adventure when they discover what is truly going on and unmask the horror lurking behind the god’s mask.