Featured image of post What I've Been Working On: Through Darkest America

What I've Been Working On: Through Darkest America

What have I been working on the last month? Let me tell you about my Shadow of the Demon Lord one-shot that I hope to roll into a full campaign.

“These are dark times foretold by the oracles and prophets, shouted by preachers on their pulpits, and whispered on the hot winds swirling out from the gates of Hell. All the unrest, suffering, doom, and decline spread from the Demon Lord’s shadow that creeps across the mortal world. It corrupts whatever it touches, twisting it to evil ends, fomenting madness, and quickening the doom this being demands. The resulting chaos has seen horrors long forgotten to rise up from their tombs to roam the lands as they once did. Armies muster over the most minor slights, bringing war, famine, plague, and death across the civilized lands.”

— Introduction, “Shadow of the Demon Lord” Core Rulebook

Once in a while, I like to dabble with other systems. This allows me to see the pros and cons of them, try new things, and enjoy the unique experiences. I like to do this to humor the dream of creating a system that is perfect for how I want to run games.

This time, it was Shadow of the Demon Lord by Robert J. Schwalb.

I’ve always wanted to create and run games in an alternate historical setting that included magic and other fanciful things. Sort of like a historical Shadowrun. I also had an idea I had been bouncing around my head for a while of a game set in Colonial America, but it never went anywhere. Then… it hit me: a little bit Warhammer Fantasy, some Zweihander and Flames of Freedom, and lastly a big helping of Shadow of the Demon Lord as I was currently reading through it. Through a sick and terrific ritual of imagination, out came this idea of Through Darkest America.

The basic premise is essentially thus. You’ll have to forgive me as it really is in its infancy:

  • In 1553, a battle was fought in Italy between the forces of France and Spain. This was considered to be the first battle in Europe won by gunpowder. However, in this timeline, there happened to be some changelings from the realm of the fae hoping to cause mischief amidst the battle. Unfortunately, faeries have a vulnerability to iron with sometimes explosive results. This causes two things to happen:

    1. Humanity is now made aware that there is something supernatural afoot.
    2. The rulers of the Fae now know that Humanity is a direct threat to them.
  • The fae, using trickery and subterfuge start to try and influence events to stunt the development of humanity. Probably the largest of these that is worth bringing up is the assassination of Leonardo Da Vinci.

  • Humanity gets wise to the situation and starts fighting back. Not all the beings in the realm of the fae were faithful to the power players there: dwarves easily sided with humanity after having to fight the fae’s trolls for thousands of years. Goblins, as horrible as the humans treat them, revere humanity as “the worst humans treat us like royalty compared to the fae”.

  • Learning the secrets of magic and their realm, humanity starts making incursions into the realm of the fae and bringing the fight to them. What they didn’t realize, though, was that the fae were actually fighting a two sided war. Aside from the mortal realm, the fae realm bordered a “realm of shadow” ruled by a being called the Shadow Tyrant. (Or Umbra Tyrannus because you know how Europeans love Latin). This being initially wasn’t aware of humanity, but came to learn of us and our realm while weakening the fae.

  • He then makes his power play: a special, powerful, and world-changing ritual that causes a confluence of the mortal realm and the fae realm. A purely chaotic combination of the two realms. The two worlds are now one, with all the chaos that brings. Magic is rampant, beings that could once hide in the realm of the fae are now fully tangible, and beings once thought mythical are brought into being.

  • That was 1772. The European invasion by the Umbra Tyrannus is underway with countless refugees fleeing, many coming to the young and new country of America. Technology is both behind ours (why focus on firearms when you can shoot a fireball?) but also weird, ahead, or just different (one of the playable ancestries is literally a soul put into a clockwork machine). Geography is similar, but different. You can head west and find ruins in Kansas that are thousands of years old.

  • It’s 1885 now, and America is trying to hold strong and prepare for the worst. Little do they know, the Umbra Tyrannus is already here. They’ve already lost, but the best they can hope for is to fight and see the dawn for another day or two.

Once the one-shot is done, I’ll report back here with how it went!

“As bad as things are, all is not yet lost. Exceptional men and women have a chance to delay or possibly avert the looming disaster. They come from all backgrounds. They are hard-bitten mercenaries, power-hungry sorcerers, and priests of inscrutable gods. They are the people living in the bowels of the earth and the cities’ slums. They rise from the fighting pits, emerge from the academies, and venture from the farms and fields that sustain the great cities. These peoples, from all across the lands, come together in the world’s hour of need to be its champions, its defenders, and, perhaps, its saviors.”

— Introduction, “Shadow of the Demon Lord” Core Rulebook

Zakharov Sawyer, Zakharov Sawyer Zd10.net