by Kelsey Dionne 4 min read 4 Comments

Shadowdark RPG is a classic fantasy roleplaying game that brings danger, speed, and simplicity to the forefront. 

It captures all I love about old school D&D, new school RPGs, and many of the ideas that have grown out of the TTRPG world in the last 20 years.

In short, this book is how Dungeons & Dragons would look if I had written it from scratch. 

Shadowdark poured out of me with a kind of enthusiasm I don't often experience, even as a full-time writer working in a genre I love. Something about the fervor in that writing process made me think I was onto something important, and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you.

So here's a Q&A-style explanation of everything you might want to know about the game!

What is Shadowdark RPG? It's a complete fantasy role-playing game contained in one book. In it, you play a character who teams up with fellow adventurers to plumb the dungeon-filled depths of the Shadowdark and explore the crumbling, lost kingdoms of a perilous and mythical world.

How is this different from other games? The core focus of Shadowdark was retaining a "classic" feel while updating and streamlining any rules that get in the way of rolling dice and having fun. So it's intentionally familiar. But it's much smoother, lighter, and faster than its predecessors. It gets rid of cumbersome, bolt-on systems and fiddly complexity, and it leans into the elements of fantasy TTRPGs that result in more excitement and engagement at the table.

Real time comes into play in Shadowdark RPG in brand new ways. A torch only holds back the looming darkness for one hour of actual game time! There isn't a moment to spare when your only light source is guttering low...

How can I learn to play? If you already know how to play a fantasy TTRPG, you're more than halfway there. And if not, I'll be releasing tons of resources beyond the core book that walk you through what to do. Email me (kelsey@thearcanelibrary.com) about joining the Arcane Library Discord if you want in on a supportive and enthusiastic community of Shadowdark players!

When will Shadowdark be available? This book is getting the highest production quality possible, complete with fully custom art by amazing creators. It will also have full PDF and print versions. The premium hardcover will go on pre-order once it's ready for the printers — likely in the fall of 2021 (stay tuned for updates).

Are you going to Kickstart Shadowdark RPG? Nope! All the funding for the game's production has been possible because of your direct support of The Arcane Library. Shadowdark will go straight to print after a preorder window so I can know roughly how many copies to order. From there, it will take 6-8 weeks to get the physical books into the U.S. and onto distribution. During the printing period, anyone who wants a copy of the game can get the PDF instantly.

As a Kickstarter-esque disclaimer, this is indeed The Arcane Library's first venture into physical print. However, I'm not going to pull the trigger on preorders and fulfillment until we have everything lined up for success. Possible delays could include another Ever Given-like blockage of shipping lanes, natural disaster, unforeseen health issues, or destructive rodents of unusual size aboard the cargo ship. I'll do my best to have contingencies for all situations in place.

Can I see a preview of the game? Absolutely! The current public version of the core rules is already available, and it amounts to a 110+ page preview. It's updated regularly, and comments are always welcome. View and download it here.

Is there a Shadowdark RPG community? There's a burgeoning Arcane Library Discord community full of Shadowdark players, and I'd love for you join it! I'm currently running the server on an invite basis, so email me at kelsey@thearcanelibrary.com with a request to join if you want to get in on Shadowdark test games, catch all the bleeding-edge updates, and impact the direction of the game and community.

What supporting material will you be releasing? Shadowdark will release alongside several adventures so you can hit the ground running. I'll also be releasing new material regularly, and I hope you'll be inspired to write some of your own, too!

Will there be an Open Game License for Shadowdark? You bet there will! You'll be able to publish your own compatible material for free or for profit at your discretion and keep all the royalties and rights. I don't want a cut — I want to be able to run and enjoy the amazing things you come up with.

I'm going to release a free Shadowdark Creator Kit that gives you all you need to write and publish for the game, including templates and design advice. Gone are the days of confusing legalese, licensing fears, and game design quandaries! I'll also give you my best advice on publishing for success. Any mystery around writing engaging material and getting it into other people's hands ends here.

You're still going to publish for 5E, right? Of course! I have no plans to reduce or change any of my 5E publishing. And if you've liked my 5E material thus far, you'll see plenty of good ideas that made the jump into Shadowdark, too.

Will you have an option for FLGS or small retailers to sell Shadowdark? That would be totally awesome. If you run an FLGS or small retail store and want to sell this book, send me a message at kelsey@thearcanelibrary.com and we can figure out how to make it possible.

How can I stay up-to-date on further news? Join my newsletter (you'll also get a free 1st-level 5E adventure) for updates on my projects, including 5E material, Shadowdark material, and otherwise.

I have more questions! Can I contact you? Please do! Email me directly at kelsey@thearcanelibrary.com, or fill out my contact form here. I may also update this article with further FAQs.


4 Responses

Paul Rodriguez
Paul Rodriguez

August 05, 2021

I tried out the Core Rules at my table and everybody had positive things to say about the game system, how there’s so much detail to the adventure.

I explained to them that your Core Rules document isn’t completed yet (at the time of my post) and the adventure was based on rolling tables found within what is publicly available.

They were speehless at the quality and level of detail of what was available. We want to dive back into the adventure (of which only one survived).

John Sikking
John Sikking

June 29, 2021

Very excited to see this labor of love come to fruition and I am very interested in seeing the final product and the creator’s kit you are developing.

Kelsey
Kelsey

June 23, 2021

Hi Nerval! I’m still working with third party logistics teams to see who offers what. I’d be spectacular to land on a company that has some UK/Europe presence, so that’s among the things I’m looking into as I weigh different fulfillment partners.

Nerval
Nerval

June 23, 2021

Will there be a UK distributor?

Leave a comment


Also in Arcane Articles

How to Write A D&D Adventure: The Complete Guide
How to Write A D&D Adventure: The Complete Guide

by Kelsey Dionne 14 min read

So you want to write a 5E D&D adventure? Read on for the step-by-step process I've developed over the years for writing an action-packed D&D adventure with as little friction as possible.
Read More
Imagine First, Design Second
Imagine First, Design Second

by Kelsey Dionne 4 min read 9 Comments

Sometimes, I write a dud. Here's the story of how I recently wrote an adventure that went nowhere, and how I managed to learn something useful from the whole experience in the end.
Read More
Milestone Leveling vs. XP Leveling: Which is Better?
Milestone Leveling vs. XP Leveling: Which is Better?

by Kelsey Dionne 5 min read 1 Comment

The age-old debate of milestone leveling vs. XP leveling! Which one is better? Here we look at the pros and cons of both, plus an entirely new system that blends what I like about each method.
Read More