Revised Review: Rogue Games – Basic (Shadow, Sword & Spell)

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Shadow, Sword & Spell Basic (Revised 1st Edition)
Shadow, Sword & Spell Basic is a core rulebook for the pulp fantasy Shadow, Sword & Spell roleplaying game (powered by the 12° system), published by Rogue Games and written by Richard Iorio II and James Maliszewski.
By Aaron T. Huss

Shadow, Sword & Spell is a pulp fantasy system published by Rogue Games and powered by their 12° system. This Basic Core Rulebook was recently revised and republished. This review is meant to accentuate the changes found within this revised publication.

The big question may be, why publish a revision so soon after initial publication? Is it necessary? Not really, but after reading through it, I love the revision and will highlight why. Go here to read the original review.


The primer section has remained relatively unchanged.


The character creation section has received a well-written revision to the basic game mechanics. The mechanics themselves have not changed, but the way they are presented and some of the examples have. This revision has not only made them more clear and easy to understand, but remove any confusion that I found when reading through the 1st Edition. The overall layout and presentation, however, have remained the same. These changes are more wording and styling changes that, while subtle, sure make a difference in ease of reading.


The skills and hook section have been revised and expanded. The intro has been changed slightly to make it clearer. There are five new skills in the revised book which include art, craft, herbalist, merchant, and ride. The hooks have been expanded by adding examples and methods of using them in-play. Again, these changes are most welcomed and make the core rulebook that much better.


The weapons pages of the economy and gear section have been modified slightly with a slight expansion and alteration to the armor, shields, and helmets section. The mechanics have remained the same, but their stats have been altered to something I find more believable. The layout and presentation have remained the same.


The action section has probably received the largest amount of revision. This section has been expanded upon and utilizes an improvement to the layout by shuffling some of the individual groupings around for a better flow. There are also many new or expanded mechanics which include initiative, tactics, possible actions, throwing, movement, called shots, ranged combat, dramatic success, use of armor and shields, moving/lifting/pushing, and poisons. Not that this section required a change, but the new and expanded mechanics are a wonderful addition and help provide more options for game-play.


All references and mechanics revolving around Arcane spells has been removed as they only appear in the Expert Core Rulebook anyway, this includes the Sanity numbers (which were all 0) for the common spells.


The gamemastering section has remained relatively unchanged.


The setting now includes a new and improved map along with the introduction of trade guilds.


The mundane threats section has received an improvement to the presentation to the way some of the stats are presented.


The creatures section has received an improvement to the way some of the stats are presented along with the occasional change to descriptions.


The included adventure module has remained mainly unchanged.


The appendix now includes a complete sample character creation bringing all of the mechanics together so that you can see how the process works.


I really like the revision to the Basic Core Rulebook. One of the things I had originally found a bit confusing was the character creation process. These confusions have been completely eradicated with new, streamlined explanations and presentations of the mechanics including character creation. That alone makes it worthwhile, but the expanded skills, weapons, and actions sections make the book even more worth the purchase. For new players, its worth using the revised book as opposed to the original.


Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rogue Games publishes very high quality products. The original Basic Core Rulebook reflected this and the revised one does as well.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
I already liked the Shadow, Sword & Spell mechanics. Now with the new explanations, examples, and expanded options, I like it even more. The simplicity of the system remains the same but now I find it easier to understand. Those that read both books may find that some of mechanics have been simplified, but I see them as simply a better explanation.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
The desire to play this setting hasn’t changed. The only thing that drops it by a point is that it’s a humanistic setting that may not appeal to all players. Game-play should still be fun but I see character creation as being faster than before.

Overall: 10 out of 10
At first I was skeptical at what could possibly be revised within the Basic Core Rulebook. But once I started reading through it, the revision feels more like the designers saying “this is what we really meant and these are the things we forgot”. The revisions and expansions are and excellent change or addition to the system and I’m glad they were made. I’m especially glad that the character creation section was revised in a way that is easier to understand. I definitely recommend giving Shadow, Sword & Spell a chance.

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