Shadows of Esteren is a French roleplaying game which will now be translated into English.
It's being described as a mixture between Braveheart, Sleepy Hollow, Ravenloft, and Call of Cthulhu. Well that certainly had my interest peaked.
From what I can see on the Shadows of Esteren Kickstarter page, it certainly is going to be a beautiful book.
I chose the Farl collector pledge which contains a limited edition version of 300 copies.
The gaming system is described as follows
- A Detailed Character Creation. The creation of a PC goes through ten steps. The Characters are designed “inside-out”: you determine his psychology with 5 Ways that define how the Character sees and affects the world. Thus, there are no attributes such as Strength, Dexterity and so on, but there are Combativeness, Creativity, Empathy, Reason, and Conviction. By default, all the Characters are equally strong, fast, good-looking, etc. However a Character can purchase Advantages and Disadvantages to flesh out some of these physical attributes (“Strong”, “Weak”, “Hawkeye”,etc.), or provide him with allies, extra funds, etc... Skills are then picked according to several stages of his life (youth, professional training, miscellaneous activities).
- The System of the Ways. The Ways are characteristics that determine the major traits of the Character’s personality: the Player allocates the scores 1,2,3,4,5 among the 5 Ways. Ways are rated from 1 to 5: 1-2 is considered Minor , 4-5 is considered Major. Therefore, a Character will have 2 Major Ways, 2 Minor Ways and an average one. This makes it possible to roughly determine the way he thinks, his emotional tendencies, etc... Additionally, there are five Faults, one for each Way: Passion (Combativeness), Subversion (Creativity), Influence (Empathy), Doubt (Reason), and Guilt (Conviction). The main aim of these characteristics is to give references for role-playing, but the Leader (GM) can ask a Player to make a Test roll in one of his Character's Major Faults to see if his Fault gets the better of him in a heated situation. Also, a Character chooses 1 Flaw and 1 Quality based on his Major or Minor Ways (a Major Way can imply both a Flaw and a Quality). As shown in the example below, a Major rating in Combativeness can result in an Optimistic behavior, but also an impulsive one. Example for Combativeness
- Quality: Major Rating: combative, optimistic, dynamic, brave, pugnacious, etc. Minor Rating: calm, phlegmatic, cool-headed, peaceful, etc.
- Flaw: Major Rating: impulsive, presumptuous, prideful, stubborn, arrogant, boastful, etc. Minor Rating: pessimistic, spineless, sad, weak-willed, fearful, self-conscious, coward, etc.
- A Resolution System Based on a D10. When a resolution roll is required, the Player adds the Character's rating in the appropriate skill + his rating in the associated Way + 1d10, and must beat a given Threshold. The margin determines the quality of success or failure. There are critical successes and failures as well. This resolution system is used for every aspect of the game, from fighting to using skills and calling upon mystical powers.
- Quick and Violent Combats. Combat is clearly deadly. Fighting attitudes have been designed to define how the Character fights. Moreover, the amount of Health Points defined at the creation of the PC (which is most of the time the same for every Character) does not increase as the PC improves in the various skill fields. The basic principle is that the human body is fragile: for example, close combat remains dangerous, no matter how good a PC is in a given domain.
- A Complete Sanity System. Dying is not the only danger that threatens the PCs: their psyche can be sorely tested, and they can even sink into madness. This is an important aspect of the game: where the combat system has been summed up in only three pages, the sanity system plays a much more important part and provided several tools to embody a psychically unstable PC. From the creation of his Character, the Player chooses a latent pathology for him, which may come to light if mental traumas become too heavy.
- Three Types of "Magic". Although Shadows of Esteren is defined as a low-fantasy universe, supernatural elements still exist. Magical powers are meant to be most often rare, but powerful, and their use is never without consequences. The game system details the Demorthèn arts (druidic/animistic tradition); the Miracles of the Temple, granted by the One God to the Elect; and Magience, a science using “Flux”, a fuel harvested from nature.