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Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/27/2014 00:09:00

Before I tell you about Enter the Shadowside, let's talk about the supernatural in RPGs. There are two huge mistakes people make when putting the supernatural into RPGs.

The first is that sometimes they don't clearly define what the supernatural does in their RPG. We generally have some idea of what the real, non-supernatural world is like, and how it works, so we need some type of system or mechanics or at the very least instructions about what to do when something supernatural happens in our game, whether wielded by the players, by monsters, or just as a condition in the world.

The second mistake some RPGs make is that they don't make the mechanisms of the supernatural, whether quasi-scientific or mystic an actionable fact, something that both impacts and can be impacted by player action. If nothing can ever be done about a ghost, that may be fine for a book or movie, because at the end the audience high fives each other and goes about its business, but in a RPG or other type of interactive fiction, you want the player's actions to have consequence in the world.

Some of my favorite settings and scenarios fail at least one of these tests. The Forgotten Realms has a ridiculously detailed and contradictory account of how magic works, but there's never a clear statement of what player characters - even epic level player characters! - can affect even the smallest part of it. Sometimes freeform play or group-customized material bumps up against differing player expectations - quick, can Dracula go outside during the day? (Yes.)

The original World of Darkness games avoided the second mistake in the grandest of fashions, putting supernatural, scary stuff right in the hands of the players from the first time they said "pick a Clan". But over time, the varying game lines developed the first mistake. Players drove each other crazy trying to make the games fit together. (This should never have been done, but nobody asked me, or I suspect, White Wolf.) So a lot of modern supernatural games since that time have worked hard to fix that first mistake, working out complicated ideas for what supernatural abilities really represent, where they come from, a coherent cosmology, and so forth. But few remembered the great strength of the World of Darkness approach was its playability, how it was (at least at first) tightly organized around player-character views and activities. It resulted in a lot of wasted words describing some dumb god or demon or ancient order of magicians that simply did not matter in play.

Enter the Shadowside, which recently went for a new Kickstarter, manages to avoid both of these mistakes, organizing its supernatural world cleanly but making sure that the player characters are situated effectively in the world as well. The world of Enter the Shadowside is one in which characters form pacts with mysterious spirits in order to gain occult power. In order to do this, they normally connect up with one of the organizations that exist in the world. There are nine, organized by whether they are anarchic or orderly (or neutral), and egoistic or altruistic (or neutral). Interestingly, whereas in many supernatural settings the organizations are all centuries old, some in Enter the Shadowside are definitively modern, including a shady Russian corporation and a 4chan-a-like message board.

The system is an interesting one - characters are created via a "turtle shell" of assigning points, in which many stats combine in various ways to create several derived stats. The system is a simple d20 roll with various bonuses or penalties attached, though it's explained in a somewhat strange way. (I couldn't really puzzle it out until I saw the chart comparing outcomes to target numbers and was surprisingly underwhelmed.)

The characters use the mysterious shadow dimension of imagination called the Shadowside for their own purposes; what I find interesting is that unlike many games, the characters are actually more effective and flexible there than the natives, since they bring with them the realities of our world. This also explains why some of the powerful entities there want to partner with characters; it benefits their agendas too.

One thing I very much like about Enter the Shadowside is the clear instructions to the GM, being quite up front about what the first few sessions should be like, what the next sessions should be like and so on. There's even a section of the book that introduces two of the nine organizations that don't appear until the "Endgame" - this is a mystic game that actually expects you, in your campaign, to get to the end of the world in a reasonable time. That's very cool.

Probably there's no need for the "please don't pirate this" page. Who pirates things anymore anyway? Nerds and losers, whatever. All the cool kids buy their stuff at drivethrurpg dot com, while wearing sunglasses probably.

If there's a weakness to Enter the Shadowside, it's that the GM section doesn't clearly indicate how I bring a group of characters together and how I oppose them both effectively and dramatically. Is it best to chase them? To attack them directly? Is this a game where they should be targeted or is it too big for that until they pull something off? What is the roal of individual character goals versus teams in this game? I would like to see a more thorough breakdown of how to get from character creation through the first few sessions, to get that all important inertia going.

And the glossary for what all the various factions call all the various skills and things in the setting is just too much to absorb (and won't actually produce more than one or two good jokes.)

I would highly recommend Enter the Shadowside if you're looking for a well-organized modern horror-magic game that is both well-detailed and clearly actionable. The system isn't anything special - hopefully the new Kickstarter edition will spruce that up a bit - but it seems at first glance to get the job done. And the Endgame concept is really awesome.

It's not that expensive and it's quite solid. Check it out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
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Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2013 21:20:30

There's a lot to love in this game, especially if urban fantasy is something that you're into.

Production values The art is very simply fantastic. You can tell that the artists both put a lot of careful detail in and the images look great. The layout and the image integration are also very seamless. I would say that this stands up very well against a White Wolf product, which it seems to directly compete with and whose DNA seems to be present in the game where production values are concerned. This is a great piece of design work and it flows seamlessly and has all kinds of great elements like graphic borders, smooth backgrounds and a very polished look from start to finish.

B. The Concept The world is filled with the hidden secret things that scared you as a child, and perception very much is reality. You can follow it back to the magic of the darkness. The shadowside is a world coextant with the mundane realm of human beings- there's a New York and an LA and a Paris, but there is a mirror where the ghosts and gods live. I feel the delicious touch of white wolf yet again, it's as though the Hedge and the Shadow have been rolled into one creepy, marvelous place. And there are urban legends here and rules about how to proceed that save your life or seal your doom.

Human being being what they are, people form groups to harness and try to control the forces of the shadowside. It's is achieved through Heirogamy. What this means, in short, is that every character in the game is, in addition to being formidable personally, possessed by a ghost or other spiritual being. It's delicious because the living human has become the host element of a composite entity.

C. For Every Rose, a Thorn On first glance, the World Turtle is intimidating. Lots of lines and lots of spots for numbers, but once you let the shock of the character sheet wear off, the simplicity if the math shows through.

Jacobs ladder is similarly intimidating. However, once again you can take some breaths, read the text, and realize that it's proper simple when you have a go at it. There's some simple addition and then you use a ruler to find a point along a linear function- the hard math is sorted already. Once you have that figure, you roll a d20 to see if you can hit it. I like that, it's pleasantly easy once you get over the shock of looking at the ladder, but you do have to get over that shock.

Don't let the intimidating charts dissuade you, after ten minutes parsing through them, they're quite simple.

D. Verdict It's a game well suited to your desire to explore those dark places in the world, where few tread, where the shadows slip away into an abyss that falls into the oblivions beyond beyond. You will not walk alone, and not everyone you meet will walk with you in friendship. I look forward to sitting down and playing, and you will as well.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Carl C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2012 15:43:33

Pros: It's cheap! $5 with $2 optional supplements is a nice deal, I don't care who you are.

The artwork is actually evocative of the setting.

Overarching plot structure without meddlesome metaplot. You have an endgame, but no prescribed or proscribed way of getting there. Your group sets the pace, and no supplement treadmill.

Really simple to understand system. One twenty-sided die is all you need. The rest of it flows from there.

Protagonist groups that stand out based on ideology and not "special powers." Any powers that one group has, the others have.

An interesting twist on modern magic settings. You get your powers from being "married" to a psychic entity--a "ghost", if you will. Said powers are fueled by your belief in yourself: If you think you can do it, you can. If not...oh, well.

Character death is no longer a huge hindrance.


I do wish the boundaries for what is and isn't an acceptable magic skill was more fleshed out, although there are guidelines.

I wish there were more rules for having your character and his/her "partner" having a disagreement.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Jukka S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/15/2012 05:08:01

Review originally posted at http://nitessine.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/review-enter-the-shadowside/

Enter the Shadowside is a new roleplaying game from FableForge. It’s available as an affordable 75-page PDF. It’s a modern-day supernatural conspiracy game written by Marco Leon. The first thing it reminds me of is Unknown Armies. In Enter the Shadowside, player characters have spirits riding around inside their heads. The second thing it reminds me of is Sorcerer.

The Shadowside in the title refers to the game’s parallel universe, or alternate reality, or dimension of dreams, or whatever you wish to call it. It’s a reality overlaid upon our own, where the souls of the dead go and the ghosts come from. It’s created by the thoughts and dreams of people, much like in Planescape. Belief Creates Reality, or “Cogito Ergo Mundus” (which literally means “I think, therefore the universe” and is grammatically as correct). The different religions of the world are explained as merely different ways to contextualize the Shadowside and its phenomena.

The PCs belong to one of nine—or seven, really—organizations or secret societies that are nicely laid out in a three-by-three grid with the axes of Altruistic–Neutral–Egoistic and Orderly–Neutral–Anarchic. The Altruistic Orderly and Egoistic Anarchic organizations are recommended only for the endgame of a campaign and even then as NPCs. Indeed, they aren’t even described with the rest of the organizations in the organization chapter, but in a special appendix at the end of the book that says “DO NOT READ ANYTHING BEYOND THIS POINT UNLESS YOU ARE A STORYHOST AND HAVE RUN AT LEAST SIX SESSIONS!!” I confess to cheating, here.

“StoryHost” (sic), incidentally, is the game’s Game Master figure.

The organizations, each of which have their own paranormal skills, are Fujin’s Blood, who are a mystical Yakuza; Diabolus Malleos (a.k.a. Διαβόλου σφύρα), who are the local Knights Templar; Somosa, the Voodoo guys; the Sisterhood of Salem, who are witches, vampires and werewolves in the WoD vein; the Greater Thelema Society, the descendants of the Hellfire Club by way of Aleister Crowley; Accelletrix, who are the magical megacorporation; and finally, the only one that I consider really interesting, the SCaV3NG3R.

The Scav3ngers are the mystical Anonymous. They’ve found the occult reality through “creepypasta”, the urban legends and ghost stories of the internet generation, on various forums. I think the concept is interesting and sort of grounded in reality in a way that the others aren’t. Their slang is inspired by 4chan and other online forums. They call the apocalypse “Longcatnarök”, which captures the gleeful irreverence of the culture. This is good stuff, and I’m sort of interested in seeing the eventual SCaV3NG3R sourcebook. The game is coyly suggesting that these are the heroes of the setting by using certain of their slang terms as the game’s core terminology. For instance, in the gameworld, Hierogamy and Shadowside are the Scavenger terms for these things, while the other organizations use their own names.

The game’s system looks lightweight and workable (I must confess to not having had the opportunity to test it in practice), though the resolution mechanic involves the use of a table called the Jacob’s Ladder. I understand the motivation to inject flavour into the ruleset itself, but the introduction of a chart you must refer every time you roll and check the target number with a ruler is inelegant. The character sheet also contains some potential for great confusion.

The World-Turtle is where you mark down your character’s stats, a number in each of the boxes. Simple, right? Except that once your character enters Hierogamy (i.e. gets a spirit riding in their head) you also mark down the spirit’s stats in those boxes, in a different corner, and in the middle you put the combined value. The Turtle looks nice, but will end up cluttered and confusing.

In general, the visual side is where the game fails. The game is laid out, for reasons beyond my mortal comprehension, in a hideous three-column format with a typeface that is slightly too large, leading to very short lines and an unpleasant reading experience. There’s a reason the two-column format is the standard. The short lines also lead to great many syllable breaks, which the word processor has inserted more or less at random (well, not randomly, but I’ve never seen a word processor that can reliably and accurately do syllabification in English). The font itself is Arial, which should never be used for anything and commits an aesthetic crime with the introduction of drop cap initials. Seriously. Two columns, and for all that is good and pure, find a font that can differentiate between the capital I and the lowercase l. Even Comic Sans can do that.

Enter the Shadowside doesn’t explain much. The GM is called the StoryHost, which you are not told anywhere. The term just pops up in the middle of character generation. The game uses six- and twenty-sided dice, which you must figure out by carefully reading the Mechanics chapter. It could use a page in the beginning going over the basics: this is how the game is different from other roleplaying games, these are the dice you need, the basic rolling mechanic goes like this. Another thing I find myself wanting is a StoryHost chapter telling you what to do with the game, what kind of adventures to run, perhaps a recommendation on whether all the PCs should be from the same organization or if a mixture is possible. In general, there should be a few lines on how the organizations regard one another. These omissions limit the usability of the game and make it seem like a work in progress instead of a finished product. Also, someone new to roleplaying games could probably apprehend that this is a roleplaying game but not, perhaps, what a roleplaying game is. A short introductory adventure might not be out of place.

The game has an interesting community aspect. There’s a subreddit for it, and the author espouses the concept of “open canon”. Basically, if you want to write your own Enter the Shadowside supplement and sell it, go for it. He retains copyright to the game, but will not demand royalties. He also reserves the right to say what’s official and what isn’t. I think this could’ve been more succinctly presented as some kind of Creative Commons licence (cf. Eclipse Phase), but I’m not an expert and can’t be sure. The idea, however, is interesting and I heartily support experiments like this. The author also describes his views on DRM, which I can agree with—hell, the PDF isn’t even watermarked. I can’t really find much to criticize in the price tag, either.

So, is it a good game? Perhaps. I must confess that I am somewhat jaded towards the whole genre of occult conspiracies. In a post-Foucault’s Pendulum and Illuminatus! world, it’s a difficult one to work in (cf. the execrable Da Vinci Code), and if it takes itself too seriously, it easily becomes a parody of itself. If done well, though, like in Unknown Armies or Delta Green, it can be something sublime. Enter the Shadowside is right there on the edge, saved mostly by its refusal to delve too deeply into the setting. The system looks functional, if a bit clunky. SCaV3NG3R is genuinely interesting organization.

Full disclosure: I was offered and accepted a free review copy from the designer.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/14/2012 14:10:43

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21586.

Enter the Shadowside is a horror-infused setting surrounding a modern fantasy system, designed to create a unique experience for the players and GMs. It uses a d20 roll-over target number system where the target is determined by comparing the initiators might (a combination of their attributes, skills, and items) to their target’s difficulty (a combination of their attributes, skill, and items for opposed actions or simply a measure of difficulty). These two numbers are placed on a scale, referred to as Jacob’s Ladder, and then connected virtually with a ruler or straight edge to determine the target number (or minimum dice roll needed). This presents the players and GM (referred to as StoryHost) a sliding target number scale always determined by using the chart (so both parties are always aware of what the target number is). The attributes, skills, and items that play into these mechanics are modern fantasy based.

The Enter the Shadowside setting is a horror-infused version of our modern world such as this horrific parallel realm, essentially a spiritual realm where the spirits of the dead and other beings reside, is tapped into for creating the supernatural abilities the characters of the setting acquire. They do this by becoming imbued with a being from this parallel realm (called the Shadowside), gaining supernatural abilities. The system and setting have a lot of abstract behaviors producing a game that is meant to be flexible, but not really meant for the beginning player. It is an advanced system being that much of the crunch is determined through game-play and player input instead of simply existing in the rules. It allows for a huge amount of flexibility, but hampers those who lack the drive to determine these things themselves.


Enter the Shadowside is a unique system and setting for the advanced tabletop role-player. The game demonstrates appeal to those who wish to make their campaigns into “their game” by creating the mechanics presented as flexible or open-ended (such as skills and items). The system and setting also embraces the group participation philosophy on story design by allowing everyone’s character to truly affect the overall design of the campaign. Instead of having a campaign with a defined end, there are plot factors highly influenced by the characters’ design and what organization they belong to. Do they fight for the good of the people or just themselves? Do they attempt to make things better or exploit things to make them worse? It’s truly a game that can be pulled in multiple directions depending on how the players respond to the setting.


Publication Quality: 7 out of 10 I have very mixed feelings on the layout and structure of Enter the Shadowside. The book visually looks great, but is not ideal in some ways. The book is designed as a PDF-only product. This is obvious through the lack of mirrored pages reflected by page numbers always being on the right and a background that doesn’t change from left to right page. That’s not a problem for a PDF-only book, especially those designed for use on handheld devices. However, the book is laid-out in a 3-column format which results in a lot of scrolling while reading the PDF. In addition, there are no bookmarks to help navigate quicker from section to section. You simply have to flip through every page and find what you want. There is no index pointing you quickly to the right sections (this is very important in core rulebooks).

The art, however, is absolutely stunning. There is a comic within the early pages of the book depicting the process of Hierogamy with a venture through the Shadowside. This comic presents an interesting depiction of the Shadowside, but does very little to explain the greater setting as a whole.

Mechanics: 5 out of 10 The Jacob’s Ladder system for determining target number is very interesting and innovative. It’s a unique implementation of a roll-over chart presented in a very simple manner. In addition, the game’s core mechanics are quite solid and easy-to-understand. If you’re a new to tabletop RPGs, however, you may find it extremely difficult to create the skills that define your character. I understand the desire to be flexible, but one must remember that the skills are used as a bonus to your base attributes. Thus, what they are exactly isn’t nearly as important as why your character possesses them (as in, defining how they are better in this skill compared to other characters).

One thing Enter the Shadowside relies heavily on are the different Organizations. Each one defines how the character goes through Hierogamy and what supernatural abilities are available to them. They are described, but not fully described. The content tells you who they are and what they do (albeit in a limited fashion), but it fails to explain why these organizations exist (as in what fuels their actions) and what their end goals are. After reading through the entire book, I have no idea what these organizations want and why they would want it. I’m sure this will be discussed in subsequent sourcebooks, but it really leaves large gaps in the base setting. This is explained slightly within the book as something the GM needs to decipher throughout game-play.

As discussed, skills are discussed but not detailed. Players are supposed to create the skills that define their character concept and provide a reason as to why they have those skills. But none of these skills are defined and the players and GMs are left to determine what is reasonable and what isn’t. They are also left to define what is relevant and what adds no value. Yes it allows for maximum flexibility but at the same time it opens the game to a lot of debate and a lot of situations where the players may try to associate a skill with an action while the GM does not. It is a mechanical implementation of abstract storytelling fluff to provide bonuses to your might when determining your target number. Connecting the dots is tricky, but advanced players may find it easy.

One gaping hole I found is the Item bonuses allowed. Characters carry equipment just like every game. This equipment provides bonuses or penalties to an applicable action. This equipment covers weapons, armor, and mundane items. However, there are no weapons, armor, or mundane items listed in the book. How do I know how much of a bonus is provided for a pistol versus a dagger? What about different types of armor? What bonuses are provided by mundane items? None of this is addressed other than the example character sheets which are not explained. Item bonuses are an integral part of the game, but never actually given. While this may seem like another flexible mechanic like skills, leaving this to player and GM interpretation can result in a thousand possibilities.

Another gaping hole is what do you do with the Shadowside after Hierogamy. Do the creatures come out? Do they attack the characters when attempting to use a supernatural ability? Or is it simply there for grabbing a spirit to perform hierogamy? There’s no bestiary in this book so I don’t understand how the Shadowside affects the greater setting other than providing spirits for hierogamy.

Desire to Play: 8 out of 10 Please note this rating is for the advanced player who can create the flexible mechanics easily. Beginning players may have a lot more difficulty. Enter the Shadowside has a lot of potential and an extremely interesting setting. If you are able to work through the flexible mechanics without over-debating it, the potential for interesting games is quite large. The fluff surrounding the Hierogamy process is enough to grab your attention simply to find out more. But how it plays is really up to the players and their dedication.

Overall: 7 out of 10 One of the reviews I saw stated Enter the Shadowside felt more like a sourcebook than a core rulebook. I agree with that statement as there are too many gaps that need to be filled and too many items that are open to debate. The book seems to focus a lot on the Hierogamy even though it’s only a portion of the game system. Some of the content reads like a blog of forum post instead of providing valuable content such as what you may find in a sourcebook. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what supplements come available.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Buck P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/04/2012 13:04:17

This game is very imaginative and I love the free form new generation RPG feel of the rules - this isn't anything like your grandpas RPG. This isn't a massive tomb that holds your hand through everything, instead its a springboard into a new and better way of gaming where all that matters is your imagination. I truly love this game, I really do.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2012 06:14:41

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/05/04/tabletop-review-enter-the-shadowside/

Enter the Shadowside is a horror/thriller RPG about encountering the mysterious and frightening thought world known as, you guessed it, “The Shadowside”. This world is where paranormal entities exist, and where the living might go to accomplish whatever ends they are trying to accomplish: some for fun, some for profit, some for things more nefarious than anything else.


Ok, this book is part manifesto, part sourcebook; I am a little loathe to call it a full-fledged role-playing game. It utilizes my least-favorite type of mechanics: light, with math. Essentially, you’re going to be comparing two numbers and rolling a d20 against the number that lies between those two on a table (admittedly, the table itself looks pretty cool). Your number, called your “might”, is going to be based on whatever attribute applies to the action, plus some modifiers dependent on skills, items, and/or bonuses. Like I said: light, with math.

The coolest thing in the mechanics are the “belief points”, which are used to change an unfavorable die roll or to use magic. The way you get the points is pretty neat: basically, if you succeed in a roll more than you needed to, you get belief points (you believe more in yourself). If you fail by a lot, you lost points. It’s a little more nuanced than that but that’s the idea.

Alright then, I’ve covered the mechanics. Basically, figure out your number and roll against it. There are some more things having to do with magic and paranormal powers, but that’s basically it. The author isn’t big on “roll-playing”.

I remember seeing the character sheet for this game some time ago, and thinking it was pretty cool. Basically, one of the coolest-looking and most aesthetically pleasing character sheets I’ve seen. It’s pretty intuitive as well: two inner attributes contribute to the total of the outside attribute that they both overlap. Neat. When you make a character you can do point allocation or roll a bunch of d6s; I generally prefer point allocation but for this game I think die rolling is pretty appropriate theme-wise.

In Enter the Shadowside there are nine factions that lie along a matrix of Orderly, Neutral, and Anarchic and Altruistic, Neutral, and Egoistic. It is through these groups that characters will most likely find themselves engaging in “hierogamy” or, uniting with a ghost (essentially). This ghost is like a familiar that lives in you and has an intimate connection to your thoughts and feelings. In the lore of this game, the ghost is the surviving sentience of someone who has died and managed to keep themselves together in the Shadowside.

That’s basically the gist of it. Large portions of the book are dedicated to role-playing in general and setting information. This book is theme-heavy, game-light. I’m going to be totally honest: I don’t care for the mechanics at all. However, the belief points do make it more interesting, it makes the die roll more than just pass or fail; how well you fail or succeed affects your morale.

What Do I Think?

In short, if you are looking for a suspenseful game with a few neat tricks, I hesitantly suggest picking this up. It’s fairly user-friendly, and it has a good amount of compelling ideas. I think that is the book’s strong point: the ideas. The author has personal ideas (or ideals) about role-playing and the book has ideas about the Shadowside and how things come to exist and ideas about what reality is. You can buy the book for the price of a sandwich, support an indie game.

Do I think it’s a really strong product? Not really. I just don’t think this is a finished product. It’s an idea. It’s a foundation. Does it make me inspired to play? A little. I kind of want to play Shadowrun after reading this book, or some oddball like Palladium’s Beyond the Supernatural. Come to think of it, this would make a pretty badass setting for Shadowrun. If you are into this game, I suggest getting involved with it and writing some material for it. The author advocates writing scenarios or settings and submitting them to the rest of the community. This game even has its own subreddit, if you’re into that (r/shadowside).

A few notes about the art: it’s good! The art in the book is really well done, and there is even a 15-page comic in the front, lending some thematic material and really blending the artwork with the idea of the game.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/30/2012 13:50:02

I normally judge tabletop games based on a few select criteria; mechanics, which splits down into ease of use, effectiveness, and how well the mechanics fit the underlying theme, and setting which is a sum of overall game feel, the attractiveness of the world the game takes place in, and how much there is to "do" in the setting, i.e. how many different types of adventures the core material supports. In terms of ease of use, Shadowside has the potential to confuse newer readers; Jacob's Ladder is a far stretch from what is done in other popular RPGs and the World Turtle takes a second to get used to. However, once you have taken a second to read through the explanations of these mechanics you'll find that they are very intuitive. Outside of using the latter, the game is a simple system. Finding out what you have going for or against you is simple addition, while the Storyhost (the game's term for Game Master, Storyteller, etc.) handles the difficulty arrayed against you. From there, you simply check Jacob's Ladder and roll the dice. While this system may seem intimidating early on, it cuts down on a lot of math and keeps the game flowing, only briefly stopping for the single roll and to check the Ladder. Effectiveness is also covered above... the system not only uses mechanics that effectively pull together all of your advantages and disadvantages into a single roll, it also encourages a degree of success or failure system, trusting the StoryHost to make the best use of it instead of providing rigid guidelines. In terms of the character sheets, while the World Turtle may seem complex most of its traits are derived, making character creation easy. Besides the Turtle, the sheets are bare and simple; your skills, a bit of backstory, that's it. The sheet might benefit from a line for items, however. Unlike a lot of games, the mechanics really do a great job of reflecting game feel, and the setting and game feel influence the mechanics. The game COULD have had a simple list of surface traits and core traits in plain text, but instead it uses the world turtle. It could have had a simple grid in which you compare your Might vs Difficulty, but instead it uses Jacob's Ladder. The resource system even ties into the lore of the setting; a belief system, that represents the amount of faith you put into your chances of success (and thus how it is reflected in the Shadowside), how these beliefs can be drawn on and how they can be damaged when things go south. The mechanics really make the game feel more alive, like the setting permeates everything about the system. It is spectacular. As for the setting, the game feel is spectacular. It is an immersive atmosphere of conspiracy theory, the paranormal, and just outright creepiness that fits all the more because of how similar the setting is to our world. In fact, for someone without knowledge of the things going on behind the scenes, it is our world... which makes it feel all the more real, all the more spooky. It hearkens back to the old days of World of Darkness, and interestingly enough could also benefit from a warning that The Shadowside is just a game, despite how close it gets to reality. The setting itself will draw in a similar crowd as WoD (it has Vampires, Mages, Werewolves, Voodoo, Mad Scientists), but also strives out on its own into uncharted territories. The Shadowside is a supernormal place were belief actually becomes truth... leading to all sorts of interesting implications on religion and reality in the setting, especially when people start using its power in the real world. The factions are all a nice mix of oldschool paranormal above, but also some great potential for more, as evidenced by the SCaV3NG3R "faction"; a disorganized, ramshackle gang of people who ended up a part of the picture through following ghost stories or conspiracy theories, whose only ties are barely coherent online communities, and whose powers are like a combination of Ghost Tricks, /x/ sigils and stage magic. Anyone who has ever been interested in conspiracy theories, ghost stories, or the occult should get great enjoyment out of The Shadowside. Finally, despite the brevity of the rulebook, the setting allows for hundreds of different types of adventures with a little imagination. Players can play Catholic Knights who are bringing about the next miracle to fuel their god with belief, or play SCaV3NG3Rs taking their first delves into the Shadowside. A group of new inductees to the Greater Thelema Society sabotaging each other in the Shadowside in an attempt to find their companions first. A ragtag group of runaways meeting up with the Sisterhood of Salem. You could be agents of the Accelletrix working against their detractors, or you could be a brutal Somosa shaman butchering the innocent to provide for their people. The possibilities are nearly endless, with the system equaling supporting combat, social gameplay and investigation. All in all, Shadowside looks like it could be the next bug cult hit, and I look forward to any new material concerning it.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Nick L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2012 15:13:26

It's a solid and thoughtful take on paranormal roleplaying. Very straightforward and doesn't underestimate the reader. I think it would work best with a small group, but I love the art and the detail. It gives a lot of freedom to run the game you want and has a lot of creepiness to send a chill up your spine.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
by Dustin R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/17/2012 09:59:13

I love the spiritual bent of this story. The author seems to be creating a fantasy world, but anyone who understands the power of thought and belief will recognize truth here. The seekers, the alchemists among us understand. What he refers to as the "shadowside" is quite real, and quite powerful. As much as I love sword and sorcery, the spiritual-power bent of this game makes me beyond excited to play it.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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