Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #72.5 - Review: Shadow of the Demon Lord, 5 sessions deep (player perspective)

Earlier today I posted my thoughts on Shadow of the Demon Lord. It's an incomplete review as I have not played the game as a player, and I feel 5 sessions is simply not enough to have a true appreciation. Well thankfully one of my players +Andrew Cady sent me along some of his thoughts as a player only with the same exposure as I just from the other end of the table. Without further adieu ...

SotDL from a Players perspective.

So I am one of the Players in Marc’s game.  My experience is only as extensive as his but from the other side of the table.  So I’ve seen things a little bit differently.

The Good

Character Options, - Wow.  I’m the type of player that likes to let my character’s experiences determine how he/she progresses.  I’ve never seen a game before that let's me do that to the level that SotDL does.  My clockwork ended up pilfering a couple small objects, so ended up becoming a rogue, then accidently summoned a demon and was seduced by the power, so he’s now fledgling warlock.  I don’t see how any character you make will end up a carbon copy of anyone else’s character; you will truly be unique, and that is AWESOME.

Tone - The Tone of the game is consistent throughout and the mechanics just reinforce this.  This is a brutal world; where everything even the players get shifted into morally grey.  Everything we face we have faced with apprehension, fear, and dread, knowing from the start that it wasn’t going to turn out great; we just hoped it didn’t all go horribly wrong.  The humor gets Morbid even Gallows like as some characters sift through an alter strewn with human organs, while a couple others are busy throwing-up outside.

The Products-  I would be remiss to mention that the book looks gorgeous, and the sheer amount of content already available is staggering.   There is great value here.  Everything I have read has been well made and really interesting, and maybe a little bit twisted.

The Bad

Fortune -  The Fortune mechanic seems a bit off.  Our GM has had a hard time figuring out when/if to award them, and players spending them seem to be arbitrary.  Mainly I think because official uses of Fortune seem a bit random.   This could be due to my experience with other games but it has been a hard thing to nail down.  Is it like a Benny, a XP in Cypher, Flipping over a Light side point?  Each session we seem to try a new approach to how we deal with fortune.  So far none have really felt right.

The D20 – OK I admit I prefer dice pools and games with a bell curb so you may disagree. But the 20 is a fickle fickle  icosagon.  Adding boons and Banes does try valiantly to mitigate the random results of this 20 sided polygon, but adding a 6 to a 3 is only a 9 and probably still a miss.  And a +6 Is the best result you can get even when you are rolling 5 boons.   This randomness can quickly end what was supposed to be a challenging encounter, or make a mild encounter devolve into tedium.