Robert Austin A 'Shattered Dawn' Review
In December, Dice At Dusk got to play through a session of a brand new RPG, Shattered Dawn. By now, you may have had time to watch the session, which we uploaded to YouTube or maybe the Q&A session we had with the RPG’s co-creator and Shattered Tabletop Games CEO, David DeSanto. Either way, I wanted to give you guys my official thoughts on the game and its mechanics.
Shattered Dawn offers something that I believe appeals to many players who are new to RPG’s, ease of play. Many times, I talk to people who have always wanted to try D&D but are afraid of its books of rules, stories about lots of math, and all sorts of other confusing aspects. That is something Wizards of the Coast have tried addressing in the last couple of years with D&D 4th and 5th editions and their simplifying of rules. However, these are not the only options for fantasy RPG gameplay with easier to learn systems.
Shattered Dawn is a great place for wannabe RPG’ers to start. It has the feel of a large world, in-depth RPG with a simplified rule set and D100 system, almost playing like a lighter RPG. Most rolls are versus rolls, keeping things like combat moving pretty quick. You may have modifiers, which are only whatever Advancements your character has taken. Advancements are acquired using points gained every level and they really make your character customizable. Divided into trees, the Advancement paths offer a wide variety of abilities and play for you and your characters. Shattered Dawn uses this system instead of “classes,” giving the player tons of options, and keeping characters and play styles from being railroaded into a fairly set path.
Creation of characters is pretty straightforward. There are a decent variety of races to choose from, all with their own Racial Benefits. Now, it is difficult, nay impossible, to NOT compare any fantasy, medieval-esque RPG to Dungeons and Dragons. Shattered Dawn and the races of Earythe are no exception. They are mostly familiar races renamed, with the tusked, roughened Dargoth being akin to Orcs, and the many varieties of the inhabitants known as Ethyl being this world's equivalent of Elves. Even so, the races of the game have their own original spin that make them just different enough.
Each character has three pools: Health, Potency and Stamina. Health is pretty straightforward, and you need lots of it! Your character will take hits and whopping amounts of damage. CEO David did mention that character creation was made fast and simple because one should practically expect their character to get mowed. “Fire up the printer!” Potency is Earythe’s magic. It is used to cast all manner of spells and do anything arcane. All denizens of this world have access to its power and use is common. Stamina seems most important, as it is a real driving force in Shattered Dawn’s combat system. It represents a character’s endurance and can be used in a bevy of ways. You can spend it to heighten your abilities. Spend up to your character level in stamina to add the same number in initiative, or use it to make staggering, powerful attacks. These pools get larger each level by dividing points in any way you see fit between the three. Also, whatever points of potency and stamina are spent in combat are slowly regenerated each round, allowing you to actively use, and keep using, these abilities.
The books themselves are very good quality and both sport fantastic cover images of the magical realm of Earythe. There are some illustrations here and there inside, but the art style is a bit mixed, leaving some pictures more fleshed out than others . For the most part, you get text on pages printed like an old tome. This immediately launches you into this fantasy world, as you thumb through pages of olde! The books are not long though, which allows players to breeze through the important stuff and start playing as soon as they feel comfortable. The books are loaded with stories, histories and characters from this place and give any GM a good foothold to confidently run a great campaign, while allowing more than enough room to add their own grand ideas.
Shattered Dawn was officially funded via a Kickstarter campaign which ended in August. The game can be purchased at the Shattered Dawn website and, currently, totals two books: an ArcMaster Guide (read DM or GM guide) and a Players Guide. More books, including Arc (story) books, are being released in the near future. The books cost around $50 USD apiece and contain everything you need to start, including all the World of Earythe’s history to help flesh out your campaign. Purchase hardcovers direct from Shattered Tabletop Games. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, PDF’s can be purchased at DriveThru RPG. However, you can use the code "DICEATDUSK" at www.shatteredtabletopgames.com for a 20% discount!
Robert Austin - Husband. Gamer. Musician and music lover. Car enthusiast. Spider collector.