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A medieval role-playing game where men have to face fierce threats lurking in the dark.

07/20/2012 - New Option: Get a Copy of Book 1 Universe for $25

Today, by popular demand, we are proposing you a new option: if you have chosen a “Tri-Kazelian” or higher Pledge, you can now add $25 to get another Book 1 Universe (standard edition). You can select this option up to a maximum of 4 times.

By the way, it is time to take stock on all the available options. For all the details, please check this update.

Thanks,
The Shadows team

07/20/2012 - A New Pledge! Hilderin Knight: Game Leader Screen & Music Album

We have the great pleasure of announcing the addition of a new pledge with a game leader screen and the music album “Of Men and Obscurities”.


Note that the new pledge, Hilderin Knight, is strictly limited to 130 backers. It is available for $120, still with the shipping costs included worldwide. If you have already chosen a pledge, you can add necessary sum and update your pledge to "Hilderin Knight".These rewards will also be available next month.

If you chose the pledge Seòl Patron ($250) or Lord of the Shadows ($1000)... Congrats! The game leader screen and the music album are now included in your pledge. It is a way to thank our most faithful supporters :)

For more information, please check this page.

Thank you all once more for this beautiful adventure,
Take care,
The Shadows team

07/13/2012 - Big Update : Three New Stretch Goals for Esteren!

We have prepared three new stretch goals for you, and here they are:

  • Folder & Signing – $30000
  • Character Sheet – $40000
  • Book 0 Prologue – $50000

For more information, please check this page.
Thanks!
The team

Hello everyone,

It is a great moment for the whole team who, after several years of work, has the pleasure of seeing the completion of this project: the translation in English of the pen-and-paper role-playing game Shadows of Esteren. All of the members involved are long-standing role-players, and it therefore means a lot to us to have the opportunity to add our own opus to this domain. It is not without emotion that we will now present the result of our work!

This project was made possible thanks to the involvement of many participants: the Forgesonges collective of authors and its twenty artists who created this universe; the Agate RPG editor, whose work and implication have actively contributed to the success of the original version; the steadfast assistance of a team of English-speaking copy editors, without whom nothing would have been possible; our American partner, Studio 2 Publishing, who advised and supported us along the months, and which will make the diffusion of our work possible.

A few members of the Shadows of Esteren team at a convention in France

From its origin, this project has been collaborative. Today, we have designed a limited edition of the Core Book and all kinds of bonuses, specially thought out to celebrate this event. But now, it will all be up to you!

Summary

The contents of the page are quite dense, the reason being that we wanted to present our work in the most exhaustive and interesting way possible. To keep track of it all, here is a summary of the contents:

1. Introduction for a Horrific and Gothic RPG
2. Book 1 – Universe: Contents

3. The Pledges

4. Stretch Goals!

5. Options for the Pledges

6. FAQ – Esteren in 20 Questions
7. The Project and its Intentions

8. Shadows of Esteren: the Game System

9. The Art of Esteren

10. Meet us at Gencon 2012!

1. Introduction for a Horrific and Gothic RPG

Here is a quick introduction to the universe of Shadows of Esteren, also taken from the official blog:

Shadows of Esteren is a medieval role-playing game, with an emphasis on the horrific and the Gothic. Drawing inspiration from Celtic myths, this universe has a discreetly fantastic side hidden under a bleak, realistic surface. This world is populated with humans who have to cope with tough daily lives, and face a supernatural threat lurking in the dark. With the focus of its adventures being investigation and survival, Shadows of Esteren is a game that favors an immersive mood and interactions among the Players.

This particular atmosphere is drawn from several sources of inspiration: the harshness and romanticism of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart; the universes of Tim Burton, particularly the one of Sleepy Hollow; Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke; as well as Berserk, the manga by Kentaro Miura. Regarding role-playing, Shadows of Esteren would be somewhere between Ravenloft and Call Of Cthulhu.

Here is more about the four main themes of the game:

  • A Dark Universe. Esteren is a harsh, medieval world where the Characters will be confronted with horror and multi-faced threats. However, this does not imply they are doomed to perish; their survival will depend on their ingenuity and bravery. Gothic tradition can be found in awe-inspiring landscapes where the forces of nature rage, a perfect setting for tragic and passionate stories.
  • Low Fantasy. In Esteren, there are no fantasy peoples such as elves or dwarves, nor are there fireball-casting wizards. Although supernatural elements are far from absent, they manifest in a subtle manner, giving way to a gritty, realistic universe.
  • An Intuitive Game System. Shadows of Esteren is a game of atmosphere, where immersion and interactions among the Players have priority over any kind of simulative gameplay. This is why the game system was designed to be intuitive and easy to become familiar with.

2. Book 1 - Universe: Contents

Intended for Players as well as for Game Leaders, this is the core book of the Shadows of Esteren role-playing game series. Within this 288-page hardcover book, you will find:

  • A game universe. The discovery of Esteren’s world through the eyes of its inhabitants, in a full-color book containing more than 160 illustrations.
  • A game system. Favoring atmosphere and interactions among the Players, the system will notably allow you to create your Characters, manage the evolution of their sanity, use Magience, discover the secret of Oghamic arts, invoke the power of the Creator, etc.
  • Player aids. Six Character archetypes, technical texts about the conception of a group of Characters, a complete glossary with an index, the Character sheet, etc.

3. The Pledges

The Kickstarter campaign is moving on, and it seems useful to us to take stock on the precise contents of each Pledge, since the various Stretch goals bring new bonuse. You can check the updated contents for each Pledge here.

Here are some details on the various pledges proposed:

  • Limited Edition of Book 1 - Universe

This limited edition is characterized by a special cover, with varnish and embossing.

Standard edition and limited edition

Only the backers who take the "Farl Collector" and above pledges will have the limited edition.

Note that apart from the cover, the contents of the book are the same.

  • Loch Varn - PDF Supplement of 32 pages

This supplement includes the Loch Varn scenario and six additional sample characters, written by Nelyhann. It is a preview of the content of Book 0 Prologue, which should be released this winter and is actually in the final phase of translation.

This scenario proposes an original game experience that is bound to make for a truly memorable session. Indeed, Loch Varn's thrilling adventure rests on unique storytelling principles and on a nonstandard progression of the plot that will have the Players dwell beyond the borders of nightmare and insanity...

  • Artworks

Printed on high-quality paper, the artworks reproduce five central illustrations of the game. Here there are:

  • Esteren T-shirt

Here is a preview of the t-shirt you will be sent if you take the "Farl Collector" and above pledges:

  • Game Leader screen

We have asked one of our artists, Chris, to realize a brand new Game Leader screen. It was supposed to be released next year in France, but we have decided to bring its publication forward and to propose it to you as an exclusivity, on the exclusive occasion of this Kickstarter, just for you!

Here is a preview of the Game Leader screen you will be sent if you take the "Hilderin Kinight", "Seòl Patron" or "Lord of the Shadows" pledge:

For more information, please check this page.

  • Music album “Of Men and Obscurities”

In 2011, we had released in France the music album “Of Men and Obscurities”, composed and played by Delphine Bois, and a few samples of which can be heard in the video showed on the front page of this Kickstarter. Today, there remains a very limited number of them in the editor's premises... and we have decided to include them in the "Hilderin Pledge", "Seòl Patron" and "Lord of the Shadows" pledges as well!

For more information, please check this page.

  • Original Drawing

This very limited offer will give you the opportunity to have your Character (or you!) drawn by an artist from the Shadows of Esteren team. This Character will then be used in a following opus of the series.

The $250 pledge includes a monochrome drawing in this style:

The $1000 pledge includes a full-size, full-color drawing of your Character like this:

4. Stretch goals!

Our first objective is to reach $3000. This sum will be used to finance the special edition and pay the shipping costs as well as the goodies proposed. Should the results go beyond this first step–which would be great in itself!–we are thinking about other goodies, as well as increasing the initial print run of the limited edition.

Here are the stretch goals we have thought about:

  • Artifact - $5000
    To celebrate this first step, our artists will prepare a set of 5 wallpapers for your computer screens.
    Status: Reached!
  • Cleric - $10000
    If we reach such an amount, we will design a special bookmark which will be sent to all the backers who have chosen the Tri-Kazelian pledge or above. Moreover, we will add another scenario in PDF format named "Poison", written by Nelyhann, which will be given to all backer who has made a pledge of $50 or above.
    Status: Reached!
  • Cartography - $15000
    For this new stretch goal, we propose you a large 16.5 x 23.3 in map, fully-colored and illustrated on both sides. On one side, the cartography of the peninsula of Tri-Kazel; on the other side, the map of the capital city, Osta-Baille. For every backer who has chosen the $50 pledge (Tri-Kazelian) or more, this map will be included to your reward. Status: Reached!
  • Object of Power – $20000
    For this new objective we are proposing a third scenario written by Nelyhann, named “Red Fall”. Along with “Loch Varn” and “Poison”, and although they can be played independently, they form a triptych called “Omens” and are a prelude to Shadows of Esteren's official campaign. This new scenario will automatically be included in the “Varigal” and higher Pledges. Moreover, we are proposing you a sixth artwork. We will propose several illustrations, and you will vote for your favorite one. This new artwork will be given to every backer who has made a $60 (Bard) or higher Pledge.
    If you have made a lower pledge but still wish to have one of these extras (the “Red Fall” PDF or 1 Artwork), add 5$ to your pledge. If you wish to get both, add $10.
    Status: Reached!
  • Folders & Signing – $30000

    For this objective, we are proposing two different rewards.
    First, we are proposing folders in which you can put your map of Tri-Kazel or the artworks, but also your notes, your character sheets... One folder will automatically be included in the “Bard” and higher Pledges.
    Moreover, if we reach this objective, three members of the team (author and illustrator Nelyhann, translator Clovis, and editor Valentin) will sign all of the copies of the limited edition of Book 1 Universe (Ouch! Pray for us :p), which will also be numbered with a special stamp, made for the occasion.
    This bonus will automatically be included in the “Farl Collector” and higher Pledges.
    Status: Reached!

  • Character Sheet – $40000
    For this new objective, we are proposing you to print sets of 6 character sheets so that you may create your first session in the best conditions. Shadows of Esteren's character sheets are divided into three sections. For this special edition linked to the Kickstarter campaign, the sheets will be printed under the form of a 4-page booklet, with a special cover page. A set of 6 character sheets will automatically be included in the “Farl Collector” and higher Pledges.
    Status: In progress...
  • Book 0 Prologue – $50000

    If we reach this stretch goal, we will propose the whole Book 0 Prologue in PDF format as soon as it is available (which should be this fall) to all the backers who have chosen the “Varigal” and higher Pledges.
    Book 0 Prologue has three scenarios (Loch Varn, Red Fall, and Poison), six template Characters, a 6-page introduction to the universe, and a 6-page abridged version of the game system, including all the basic elements to play. Its translation is currently in its last steps, and it should be released this winter in its hardcover version.
    Status: In progress...

5. Options for the Pledges

As the Kickstarter campaign goes on and new stretch goals are reached, we are adding additional contents. By the way, thanks to all of you, your support is amazing! So, these contents are automatically added to certain pledges; for others, you must invest a few more dollars to get them.

You can check the updated contents for each Option here.

To get these options, simply add the required sum. You do NOT need to send us a message. Indeed, since there are now several options and many backers, managing all of this could quickly become complicated...

Note that you can take several options. For example, if you have chosen the “Tri-Kazelian” Pledge, you can add $10 and get the “Loch Varn” and “Red Fall” scenarios as extras. Or also, if you have chosen “Scholar”, you can add $10 to get the “Poison” scenario and the map of Tri-Kazel, or even add $15 to get Poison, Red Fall, and the map. Etc.

After the Kickstarter is finished, we will ask the backers for what extras they have pledged in the backer survey we will send out.

As always, if you have any questions, ask away!

6. FAQ - Esteren in 20 Questions

We have laid out an FAQ dedicated to Shadows of Esteren, which sums up the central themes and principles of the game in twenty questions:

  • What is the style of your game?
  • What are the themes of the game?
  • What makes your game horrific?
  • What do you mean by “low fantasy”?
  • Who will be the Characters?
  • Can fantasy races–such as elves, dwarves, or gnomes–be played in Shadows Of Esteren?
  • Is Shadows of Esteren an ongoing series?
  • Will Shadows of Esteren extend to other media than role-playing?
  • Etc.

Check out the entire FAQ here.

7. The Project and its Intentions

To tell you of the intentions that have defined the creation of Shadows of Esteren, here is a link to download an open letter by Nelyhann, author, illustrator, and coordinator of the series. He speaks of the Forgesonges collective, the origins of the project, the translation process...

Open letter by Nelyhann here.

8. Shadows of Esteren: the Game System

The game system of Shadows of Esteren has been designed to support the atmosphere and encourage interactions among the Characters. Therefore, it relies on simple, intuitive mechanics so as not to burden the narration, particularly during combats, which are meant to be quick and violent. A particular importance has been given to the creation of the Characters, and the evolution of their mental condition. In Book 1 Universe, the game system takes about a hundred pages on the 280 that make up the book.

Here are the main characteristics of this game system:

  • 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.

9. The Art of Esteren

The illustrations and the visual atmosphere of Shadows of Esteren are a very important aspect of the project. A team of 8 illustrators is involved in the Shadows of Esteren series. We have wished for the illustrations to bring a meaningful support to the imagination of the Leaders and Players, once more with the objective of optimizing the mood during the sessions.

Here are a few samples:


10. Meet us at Gencon 2012!

From September 2010, the team of Shadows of Esteren has been on a tour through France, Belgium, and Switzerland. Overall, we have attended close to a hundred events. On the occasion of the release of Shadows of Esteren in the English language, we will come to Gen Con for a very special date of the Esteren Tour! Nelyhann, the coordinator of the series, Valentin, the editor of the original edition, and Clovis, the translator of Book 1 Universe, will be there to present the game and sign copies of the book. You will find us in the Exhibitor Hall and we will be in booth #419 with Studio 2 Publishing.

Until then, thank you for your support, and see you soon in Indianapolis!

If you have any questions to ask, or anything you wish to mention, do not hesitate! We will update the FAQ below.

Yours truly,
The Shadows team

Status: In progress...

FAQ

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  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    48 backers

    SHADOW - You will get the PDF of Shadows of Esteren's Core Book: Universe. Welcome into the shadows...

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $15 or more
    You selected

    138 backers

    SCHOLAR - In addition to the PDF of Book 1 Universe, you will get the PDF “Loch Varn” including a big scenario and six other template Characters. For more details about this bonus PDF, check out the paragraph “Loch Varn – Supplement of 32 pages” on your left. Prepare to dwell beyond the borders of nightmare and insanity...

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    97 backers

    TRI-KAZELIAN - You will get a hardcover copy of the standard edition of Book 1 Universe as well as its PDF version. Shipping costs included worldwide! Welcome to Tri-Kazel!

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  • Pledge $60 or more
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    8 backers

    BARD - All the rewards of a Tri-Kazelian + five artworks. Printed on high-quality paper, the artworks reproduce five central illustrations of the game. For more details on these reproductions, check out the paragraph “Artworks” on the left. Shipping costs included worldwide! May the shadows inspire you...

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  • Pledge $65 or more
    You selected

    120 backers

    VARIGAL - All the rewards of a Bard + the special 32-page PDF, Loch Varn. For more details about this bonus PDF, check out the paragraph “Loch Varn – Supplement of 32 pages” on your left. Shipping costs included worldwide! As a Varigal, you won't lose your way in the shadows!

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  • Pledge $90 or more
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    139 backers Limited (161 left of 300)

    FARL COLLECTOR - You get the limited edition of Book 1 Universe (exclusive to this Kickstarter!) and its PDF version + the “Loch Varn” PDF + the artworks + the t-shirt. For more details about this limited edition, check out the paragraph “Limited Edition of Book 1 - Universe” on the left. Shipping costs included worldwide! Hold on to these relics!

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  • Pledge $120 or more
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    130 backers All gone!

    HILDERIN KNIGHT - All the rewards of a Farl Collector + Game Leader screen + Music album “Of Men and Obscurities”. To sum things up, here are its contents at the moment (which include the bonuses acquired with the stretch goals): Book 1 Universe and its PDF version + the “Loch Varn” PDF + the “Poison” PDF + the “Red Fall” PDF + 6 artworks + the t-shirt + 5 wallpapers + a special bookmark + a large map of Tri-Kazel + Game Leader screen + Music album “Of Men and Obscurities”. Shipping costs included worldwide! Taol-Kaer needs you!

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  • Pledge $125 or more
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    8 backers Limited (2 left of 10)

    GOUVRAN MERCHANT – This offer is exclusive to RETAILERS (Only for qualified retailers. Please contact shadowsofesteren@gmail.com for a confirmation before you make your pledge.) You will get 4 hardcovers copies of the standard edition of Book 1 Universe plus 1 copy of the limited edition as well as its PDF version. For each additional $25 you will get another copy of the standard edition. Shipping costs included worldwide! Spread the shadows in your town...

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    7 backers Limited (3 left of 10)

    SEÒL PATRON - All the rewards of a Farl Collector + one of the artists of Shadows of Esteren will draw the portrait of your PC (or your portrait), which will be included in a future publication! You will be mentioned in the credits of the book in which this illustration will appear. A reproduction of the illustration, printed on high-quality paper, and signed by the artist, will be sent to you. For more details about this offer, check out the paragraph “Original Drawing” on the left. Shipping costs included worldwide! The artists of Tri-Kazel thank you!

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    5 backers All gone!

    LORD OF THE SHADOWS - All the rewards of a Tuaille Occultist + a fully colored full-size page illustration of your PC or a Feond (a horrific creature of Esteren's world) which you will conceive in collaboration with the game's team. Your PC or the Feond will be included in a future publication. You will be mentioned in the credits of the book in which this illustration will appear. A reproduction of the illustration, printed on high-quality paper, will be sent to you. For more details about this offer, check out the paragraph “Original Drawing” on the left. Shipping costs included worldwide! Be part of Tri-Kazel's history!

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Funding period

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