[Early Dark] PDFs are out!

edited August 2011 in Story Games
Did anyone else back this project? Anyone else buy a pdf?

I'm reading through the background right now, and it's very cool. I don't have much to say about the mechanics yet. They look very intriguing, but I haven't read them in great detail yet.

Post your impressions here! I'll formulate a better response once I've read more.


  • I have no idea what it is! Linky links?
  • edited August 2011
    Looks like the Kickstarter is here. (Nice description of the game world experience they're aiming for.) And the website is here.

  • I've glanced at the beginning of the PDF. The setting does look interesting. But I'm going to wait for my print copy to come before I seriously read this. I've concluded that book for initial read through, and PDF for reference is my ideal combination.
  • Where is it available? Their website hasn't been updated since 2010. I was beginning to wonder if they'd disappeared.
  • The PDF is available on DriveThruPRG here.
  • Sorry for the lack of links, and thanks to those that provided them!
  • edited August 2011
    Snagged it thanks. Holy Shit...how is this game not already on everyone's radar.

    The Prologue is quite possibly the single best introduction I've ever read in an RPG book! Not as in "introduction to how to roleplay" but "introduction to what this game is about and the mind space we envisioned when we wrote it". I tried to do something similar for Blood Red Sands which I hope people besides me think is as good as I think this one is.

    And the cultures are incredibly interesting...and easily one of the best presentations of RPG cultures I've read...stories and legends and history all blurred together with enough talent to be fun to read and just loaded with potential character conflicts. I mean when you have a culture that stole the secret of metalurgy from the giants and then managed to defeat the giants in a war because their women fought alongside them but only the male giants fought, so they only had to defeat half as many. That's a pretty cool story in itself. But when you then spin off from their that the women giants are still around but without any male giants (who were all killed) they can only bear children by tricking men lost in the wilderness and giving birth to half giants...making for an instant boogie man (er...boogie woman?) in the form of Motherings who take wayward males in some kind of mythical version of the movie Misery, that's awesome. And when you then derive an entire cultural tradition of shrouding metal working in the deepest secrecy because they need to keep the giant kin from stealing the secret back...that kind of stuff just makes me want to totally play in that world. And that's like 2 pages out 100ish of stuff like this.
  • Also looking for a spot to buy the book...
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: framweardDid anyone else back this project?
    (Raises hand)
    Posted By: Valamirhow is this game not already on everyone's radar.
    A year ago, I tried to spread the word. Guess I wasn't loud enough.
  • edited August 2011
    Bought the PDF yesterday, read the about 360 of the 400 pages (skipped a few pages in the middle to see if I could get to playing, going back to read now). The art, setting, layout, passion and cohesiveness are extraordinary.

    The character creation and game mechanics I'm having a time getting my head around though. So many things depend on so many other things. Maybe it's just lack of sleep. Has anyone here played this game? Any mp3's of people playing it?
  • Hey Lester, the image you have on your website is beautiful. Love to use that as wallpaper. But it makes your site completely unreadable. I had to highlight the text in order to read the inverted-color version.

    Calc, 360 pages in a day? Crap, I thought I read fast. I only read the prologue, the universal world stuff, and the Vayok culture portions of the setting sections. I haven't gotten to the game mechanics yet.
  • I always get impatient and skip back and forth from the fiction to the game mechanics.

    I tried to make a character, but Calculus is right; the character creation is slightly hard to follow. It seems like it produces really neat characters (and it also places them in the world in a cool way).
  • Posted By: framweardI tried to make a character, but Calculus is right; the character creation is slightly hard to follow. It seems like it produces really neat characters (and it also places them in the world in a cool way).
    Do tell! (when you have time to read/process it, that is). If possible, I'd love to see someone go through the chargen process. I was on the edge of picking this up, and think that hearing how character generation works given the above, that would Do It.

  • I'll try one too. The Vayok are really intriguing me. They're like Innuit Vikings with a dash of Cimmeria and kind of what I imagine a Ganakagok tribe would eventually develop into centuries after the dawn. Something about raiding villages with dogsleds pulled by large wolves...
  • I was waiting for the dead tree book to come out. One of the creators posted here on storygames awhile back.

  • edited August 2011
    Going to give this character creation another wack.

    Step one - roll region:

    1d10 = 2 : VaanKur

    Step two - roll local culture:

    1d10 = 1 : Three Homes (The only city up here in the north. Only other option here was a settlement. )

    Step three - roll scenario and pick people in it:

    (The chart for this is on page 387, about 205 pages away from the previous charts)

    1d10 = 3 : "A thief gets caught stealing the jewels decorating the beard of a sleeping patriarch when someone walks in."

    At this point, if you were playing with a group, you'd all pick people to be in this scenario. Since it's just me, I'll just pick one person.

    I'll go with the thief, since that seems to be cool way to start a myth - in deep trouble. Now thieving for a Vayok would be unthinkable - they just grab swords and duke it out when disagreeing, or go have a chopping other people's heads off contest.

    So there must be a reason that my char can't just have a fight. Hey, he'll be just a kid - his daddy killed this serious bad evil warrior chief. Died himself a few minutes later, but turned the tide of the battle. Patriarch picked up the necklace from the dead bad guy after it was all over. Kid figures it should belong to him. Challenged the patriarch to a duel for it. Patriarch laughs and tells him to wait a couple years.

    So the kid sneaks into the Patriarch's long house in middle of the night. Big common sleeping area. He takes the necklace off the sleeper, turns to leave, and finds one of the Patriarch's kid daughters is awake. She looks at him for a long moment, then deliberately closes her eyes.

    He bugs out of there. Out under the stars he realizes everybody's going to know he took the necklace. Decides to run away

    Step four - "Milue" (cultural subgroup)

    I'm going for "Vayok Urban". As I tick stuff off here, I get fixed attributes that can't be changed later in character creation.

    Urban- 5 Relate
    Male- 1 Thrive (so I'm gonna be terrible at that the whole game)
    Young- 4 Move
    Heritage: Khazil - 2 Guile (I think I'm Khazil, not sure that's the name foreigner's call us, usually for Vayok living far from home. )

    Clan Kimi [1 Investment] (No clan names list, that I remember, so I'm making on up.)

    Step five - pick some additional alignments

    (out of six choices:)

    Romance (with the girl)
    Rivalry (with the patriarch)

    Step six - stat up remaining Aptitudes:

    I get to put 12 points worth among the four remaining Aptitudes

    Cunning 4
    Fight 3
    Touch 3
    Labor 1 - (not this kid's style!)

    Step seven - calculate traits

    This is where I got lost the first time. On careful reading I see that the chart here on page 212 for calculating these doesn't say what aptitudes apply to each trait. It's listed on the char sheet at the end of the book. So I'm going to be bouncing around.

    Tacks per Turn: 4 from 4 cunning.
    Damage per Die: 1 from 3 Fight
    Investment Renown Limit: 4 from 5 Relate (this one's explanatory text confuses me)
    Upkeep discount: 0 from 2 Guile
    Guard: 15 from 1 Thrive (hello, terrible)
    Initiative: +2 from 3 Touch
    Ground: 5 from 1 Labor (ouch)
    Rolls per Round: 3 from 4 Move

    Step eight - calculate secondary traits

    Vest Capacity: 5 from 5 ground. (this is how much stuff I can carry in combat)
    Total Capacity: 10 from 2x Vest Capacity. (how much I can lug while walking)

    Step nine - Dice

    Again, this page confused me, until I took it really slow.

    "Heroes all start with 4 dice in each Domain. Players spend 7 further Stars to purchase additional Dice according to the chart at the bottom of the page."

    Mundane: 8
    Arcane: 4
    Loom: 6

    A box now tells me to begin the campaign with:
    4 Raw Arts
    4 Wounds
    3 Guard Dice
    Create Unarmed Fighting Style
    4 Each Domain Dice (7 Stars) [I'm guessing this has already been taken care of]
    2 Talents Mundane or Arcane

    Now to work my way through these.

    Oh. But first the section on arts tells me that:
    Blood equals 2 X Arcane Dice
    So that's an 8 for me.

    Oh, and there's this whole chapter about epitaphs now. But I haven't pick any of the above. Last time I tried for epitaphs and got confused, so I'll take care of the above, starting with arts, then come back to page 216

    Step ten - Arts

    Arts start on page 290, FYI.

    Raw Animal Kinship (Relate-Touch) (page 294)
    Raw Armoring (Fight-Touch) (page 296)
    Raw Scouting (Move-Touch)
    Raw Protgony Magic family (Cunning) (page 336)

    Oh wait. Can't do that last one. Paragraph two on page 324 is going to take some careful parsing.

    Got to go for now. Finish tomorrow.
  • Wow! I'd like to have known about this earlier so I could've backed it up, too.

    How long did that character creation take, Calculus? Did you find it fun?
  • I'll probably do one my own self tomorrow, now that you've asked Andy. =D
  • edited August 2011
    halski, way too long. But that's because I'm learning out the rules, and I write slowly. :D

    Step ten - Arts and Talents

    Trying again here. Apparently for magic, you have to take a Talent for an area of magic before you can take any Arts in it. So here I've added a talent for loom magic before I add an art for thread stalking.

    Raw Animal Kinship (Relate-Touch) (page 294)
    Raw Archery (Fight-Touch) (page 295)
    Raw Scouting (Move-Touch) (page 316)
    Raw, thread Stalk (Relate-Touch)

    Loom Magick
    Archery - Grazing Shots

    Step eleven - Create Unarmed Fighting Style

    ? - Although I'm instructed to "Create Unarmed Fighting Style (it takes the Light Aspect)" as part of my character's creation. I've searched high and low, and can find nothing about fighting styles in the manual.

    Now since only weapons have aspects, maybe I'm supposed to make a fighting style and it becomes a weapon? (which would mean I could hurt people with it)


    Unarmed Fighting Style Weapon: Vayok Wrestling

    Step twelve: Pick first Epitaph Advances

    This confuses me a little, since this first epitaph is about your backstory, but you don't unlock these powers until later on in the story. So should they be things you might be learning in the story, or things from earlier? I'm going with earlier.

    "The Lone Bear Cub"
    Augment Move (10 renown)
    Augment Guile (10 renown)
    Raw Speachcraft (10 renown)
    Raw Martial Arts (10 renown)
    Raw Loom Osmosis (10 renown)

    Adding a mundane dice for to go to 9.

    Step fourteen - pick a name

    Name Keyush (Means "bear cub").

    Would be nice if there were name lists for you to pick from for the different Milieus. I just google eskimo names.

    Step fourteen - Get stuff.

    The creating a character section doesn't say much about getting stuff. There is a small list of weapons in the GM's section on page 362.

    The kid is taking:
    - his small ax. (load 4, balance 2)
    - his father's dagger (His father's sword passed on to an uncle ) (load 1, balance 4)
    - his bow (load 3, balance 4)
    - Three days food, and camping supplies, but no tent. (load 5)
    - The white wolf Aglakti. The oldest of the boy's family's wolves and grandfather of many pups. Aglakti nearly died earlier in the year from wounds in the last hunt. He doesn't run when he can walk and doesn't walk when he can lay down. Aglakti and the kid have been friends since the kid could move.

    Char gen complete!
  • edited August 2011
    Kudos! Thanks for working through such an illustrative example.

    I found the chargen chapter in Early Dark so muddled as to be offputting. The game looks intriguing, and the character sheet appears to be present a pretty condensed, if not light, set of mechanics. The cultural detail is fantastic, but I can see it being challenging to convey all this to a group. That said, the random milieu placement might take care of that issue, since it drops everyone into a particular culture and situation. Kind of IAWA in that respect.
  • The boy Keyush and the wolf Aglakti set out away from the sea, for they did not want to found. In the night they walked passed the grain fields of the Vayok. They acknowledged the dawn and climbed into the hills.

    Keyush did not know his way. The wolf Aglakti knew these hills, and preferred to walk on the familiar paths of the Vayok. It would be safer Aglakti thought, and easier to walk on. But as often as the boy's keen eyes saw trail traces, he moved to walk farther away from the trail.

    And thus straying, Keyush traveled North.

    By the light of the second day's morning he heard a great commotion and shouting. Keyush climbed the hill behind which the sounds came. When came near the top, he moved cautiously to look down unseen.

    Sleds, goods, and bodies were scattered around in the snow. A gigantic Fell Musk Ox was sniffing, pawing, and destroying. His weight was as a ship, and mouth bloody.

    Keyush set down his ax in the snow, and readied his bow.

    Round 1
    Keyush RPR: 3, Guard: 33 (3d10+15 guard), Wounds: 4
    Umiaktorvik, The fell muskox: RPR: 4, Guard: 50 (5d10+19 guard) Wounds:4

    Now I'm confused. Reading over the combat rules, it says "Shooting
    an arrow from more than twenty yards away would dictate a Trial, not a Bout. If an attacker is using a Ranged weapon outside of combat, is surprising an unsuspecting foe, or is shooting from a distance further than twenty yards, use a Trial." However, I've got no idea how hard to make this trial, or even why it would be a trial, which is a series of die rolls, rather just one roll of a certain number of dice. Grr!


    Just make it skill checks to hit? Then calculate damage?
  • Posted By: CalculusNow I'm confused. Reading over the combat rules, it says "Shooting
    an arrow from more than twenty yards away would dictate a Trial, not a Bout. If an attacker is using a Ranged weapon outside of combat, is surprising an unsuspecting foe, or is shooting from a distance further than twenty yards, use a Trial." However, I've got no idea how hard to make this trial, or even why it would be a trial, which is a series of die rolls, rather just one roll of a certain number of dice. Grr!
    I guess they mean at that range it's less of a fight and more of a one-sided affair, so instead of using the full combat rules you use a Trial to represent the archer trying to snipe his target, the target noticing or not noticing that they're being shot at, or the fight for a good shot if both parties have a bow. I haven't read it in detail yet, but I noticed your comment and tried to puzzle it out.

    I'll post an example if I figure it out. :D
  • framweard, Valamir, looking forward to seeing the chars that you come up with.
  • Thanks for the rundown, Calculus! Appreciate it!

  • edited August 2011
    My turn!

    Step One: Region, Culture, Scenario
    Region: Kuludo
    Culture: Anu
    Scenario: A shipment of Flower goes missing and three guards come to a small town to investigate. My character is a Sabu--a member of the Anu warrior class (think bushi). He's one of the guards sent to investigate the missing Flower (a type of narcotic).

    Step Two: Milieu
    Sabu class warrior
    Sabu- 5 Fight (2 damage/die)
    Male- 4 Cunning (4 tacks/turn)
    Young- 1 Relate (0 upkeep discount)
    H'han Heritage-2 Guile (3 investment limit)

    Alignments: Sabu class [1 investment), Kowada family (related to House Peregrine) [1 investment]

    Step Three: Aptitudes and Traits
    4 Thrive (18+ guard)
    3 Touch (+2 initiative)
    2 Labor (6 ground)
    3 Move (3 rolls/round)

    Step Four: Dice and Arts
    Domain Dice: 9 Mundane, 4 Arcane, 4 Loom
    Arts: Raw Armoring, Raw Skill Blade, Raw Tactics, Raw Chant
    Talents: Decorative Armoring (Armoring), Flurry (Skill Blade)

    Aura: 0
    Blood: 8
    Armor: 11

    Step Five: Epithet
    Low Skill Blade (20 Renown), Move Aptitude (30 Renown)

    Step Six: Equipment
    Name Load/Balance OR Armor Rating
    Katana 3/4
    Anu Hard armor 7/11 (Load reduced via Armoring roll)
    Three days trail rations 3/-
    TOTAL: 13/14


    "I am called Ari Quickblade, son of Ara, of the Kowada Family under House Peregrine. I am come to dispense justice upon a thief or thieves, and to return what has been stolen from the Anu Empire."

    Ari fought for the Anu Empire during the war, and after killing six Edish ambushers in the blink of an eye he was given the name Quickblade. Since the death of his Empress and the end of the Six-Fronts War, he has wandered from town to town, province to province, offering his services as a settler of disputes and a executor of justice.

    He feels that he is defending the weak, but often cannot relate with people below his status (i.e. common folk). Ari prefers to solve problems with his blade, which sometimes causes more trouble than it abates. Nonetheless, he is an earnest and eager defender of his people, even if he doesn't really understand most of them.


    I tried to keep everything in the jumbled order that I created it (according to the somewhat messy character generation chapter), so you could see how the character was built. I like the end result, but the book can be hard to follow. It doesn't take well to partial readings--I get the feeling that if I had read the mechanics fully and finished the background chapters, I would have had a much easier time flowing through the process.

    It's still going to be a bit jumbled, though; but in the end it's a neat process that creates interesting characters. I can't wait to use it to generate a group of characters, rather than just one.
  • He looks like one dangerous fellow.
  • Fram and Calc,
    Thanks for these guys. You're helping me get a better idea of the game. I tend to nitpick games over character creation. If the one thing that everyone can do is to hard or too confusing, then it leads me to wonder how are the core rules?
    I love the characters you created, they seem to pop with personality already before play.

    So I have another question for you, beyond character creation, how is the game for the GM?
    Does it offer up adventure design ideas for this world? Suggestions on how to bring a party of characters together and what would they do in this world, since it is clearly not DnD-esque?

    And how difficult/easy are the actual rules? Make system comparisons if you can.

    Thanks and more please.
  • edited August 2011
    The game seems pretty easy for the GM to run. The book is packed with ideas, and part of the character generation includes a list of starting situations sorted by which area of the world they take place in, which can easily be adapted for other purposes. There are tables of random encounters if you want to use them, based on the ecologies of various locations. The book also provides plenty of examples, including example characters. There is an entire chapter dedicated to discussing the game mechanics and how to use them as a GM.

    As for difficultly of the system, I'd say it's on par with the One Role Engine. Some things seem a little more confusing on a quick read, but once you've read all the rules and thought about them for a bit, everything makes sense. Some of the rules are a bit more confusing than others (like Striking vs Fatiguing), but there aren't any huge obstacles to understanding the game.
  • edited August 2011
    Hey, Early Dark creator here. Thanks for starting up the game!

    I believe Early Dark as a whole speaks for itself, and I hope that any of the confusing parts became more clear after another reading. But, I'll trust your opinions if it seems things are still a bit tricky after a few tries. I would love to hear exactly what hiccups occurred during the character creation. We have a little wiggle room before the final proofs are set with the printers, so any suggestions that can make things smoother would be awesome! I love the two characters that have been posted so far, so it looks like you persevered. I especially like a new character taking the initiative and adding a couple extra alignments that fit in with the backstory. We haven't encountered chargen issues before, so I'm wondering if the format is the problem (scenarios in back, but milieus up front, navigating PDF) or if there is something that got lost during the final layout edits (sometimes things get "moved" and end up disappearing).

    Maybe I can add a little blurb about the combat styles: Calculus did it just right. The character sheet used to just say "unarmed fighting style" but so many people wanted to name their styles. Eventually we took out the "gimme" stance and let them write in what they wanted.

    I'm loving the feedback so far, and we always aim to make the game easy and enjoyable to play.

    Anyway, I don't want to lurk around here and get in the way of people's candid reviews and opinions, but feel free to write me if you have ideas or suggestions. Framweard posted a nice correction on our forum, and things like that are always great to find. Jumping into the system is the fun part, and I can't wait to see how people take to combat in Early Dark, where creating situations/encounters is more fundamental than rolling up enemies.

    Glad to have places like this.
  • Calvin, I'm really excited by a lot of what I see in Early Dark. Kudos on a great job of marrying deep cultural detail and worldbuilding to an interesting system. The color writing is superb, and the situation-loaded character generation is really cool.

    My bug with the PDF is the lack of a running example during chargen, and (as has been brought up above), some points in the writing where the mechanical explanation is ambiguous or assumes the reader has knowledge of an element that isn't actually described. When I get a chance, I'll try to pull up some specific places where I find this, but going over the text with a reader wholly unfamiliar with the game would probably yield useful insights.
  • A bit of thread necro, hopefully not treading on anyone's notions of forum etiquette.

    Just wanted to say thank you to Calvin and Anthropos Games for the free PDF of the Character Creation Companion, which provides a lengthy running example of chargen. Classy and nicely done, right down to the thank you credits given to people who commented on this thread.

    This really whets my appetite for the game. Kudos!
  • Thanks, Hexabolic. That's all I needed, another awesome RPG to buy. *KER-BOUGHT!*
  • My wallet feels your pain, man. :-)
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